Fraudsters are returning to the tried and tested method of the highly lucrative bank email scam to target companies, as the economic climate shows no signs of improving and jobs losses rise, according to fraud experts.

A new study out last week showed that fraud costs the UK close to £85 billion annually and rises sharply as economic conditions worsen.

Companies that fall victim to this 'change of supplier bank details' scam, currently staging a comeback, could face large losses, warn experts in PwC's forensic services. A letter or email typically begins: "Dear Accounts Payable department, our bank details have changed to the following. Please can you update your records."

Andrew Gordon, forensics partner, PwC said: "In the 1 percent where the fraudsters succeed, it is very lucrative, with six figure losses by no means unusual. The combination of the current difficult economic climate and continuing pressure in companies to reduce staff headcount, including finance control functions, is definitely encouraging fraudsters to try their luck with this type of scam again."

Gordon said companies should watch out for the giveaways and supposedly confirmatory emails from almost identical email addresses, such as .com instead of, or an address that differs from the genuine one by perhaps one letter that can be easily missed.

"Don't forget to consider also the inside job," added Gordon. "Is there anyone in your organisation who could create such a letter him/herself, and then arrange for a supplier's bank details to be changed? If so, that person probably has too much authority. Segregation of responsibilities between processing and approval remain key along with regular reconciliations and follow up of exceptions."