A Peterborough business owner who lost nearly £54,000 when fraudsters hacked his firm has called for action to be taken to stop other companies falling victim to the same crime.
Richard Crisp set up Home Care Essentials from a Peterborough shed eight years ago, and now the company, which sells cleaning products and other goods online, has a turnover of £2 million, and employs 11 staff at its base in Denton, near Stilton.
But, last month Richard (50) realised his firm had fallen victim to a sophisticated fraud, which cost the business £53,727. The hackers had accessed a number of listings on Ebay, changing the account details by a tiny detail - changing the final ‘L’ in email@example.com to a capital ‘I,’ which meant money for orders the firm was sending out was going to another account.
Richard said: “When I realised what had happened, it was gut wrenching. I had been going through the accounts, and I could not work out why our profit margin was smaller than I expected it to be.
“The fraudsters targeted small items, so it was easy for them to fly under the radar, and for us to miss. The first fraud was for an item that cost just £2.95.”
The fraud started on Valentine’s Day 2018, and only came to light in July this year when a customer said he had not received the paint he had ordered, and asked to cancel.
Richard still has not received a penny of the money back, as he said neither Ebay or Paypal had accepted responsibility. He said: “We still do not know how they changed the account details. We do not get a warning if someone changes those details on Ebay - that is something that I think should be introduced. We have been and checked all our 3,500 Ebay listings, and there were 91 accounts that had been changed. We have now enabled Ebay’s two step verification process, but we don’t know if that will help stop the fraudsters in the future.
“I’ve spoken to others who have had the same problem - something needs to change to stop it happening again.”