Police are warning people to be extra vigilant after highly-skilled fraudsters duped a Lancashire businesswoman out of £140,000.
Fraudsters contacted the shop owner several times last month and conned her into handing over the business account details.
They then used the details to impersonate her on internet banking systems making a number of transactions.
An investigation is underway and PC Mark Aldridge, from Lancashire Constabulary’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “This increasingly common method of fraud – known as vishing – has been used in as many as 40 other frauds nationally, with losses possibly running into millions of pounds.
“It is a scam whereby highly skilled fraudsters contact business owners and account managers and con them into unwittingly revealing their business account details. These offenders display a high degree of competence and a thorough knowledge of online banking and account management systems, which can make them appear very genuine and legitimate.
“It can occur over a number of weeks until the fraudsters eventually gather enough details to take over control of the account and make transactions on it. From there money transfers occur via numerous accounts, some of which are located overseas in places such as the Middle East and Eastern Europe.”
Police are advising local businesses and account managers to maintain close control over all their personal and business banking details.
People who believe they may have been victims or have been targeted can visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.