SMALL BUSINESSES FRAUD HAS COST 50,000 JOBS

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Fraud against small businesses has led to the loss of up to 50,000 UK jobs, according to research by Barclays.

A study carried out by YouGov on behalf of the bank found that 44 per cent of small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had been targeted by fraudsters and almost one in four (23 per cent) had fallen victim to fraud.

The study showed 10.6 per cent of all SMEs surveyed had suffered a cyber-attack, with 8.58 per cent of those making staff redundant to cover the cost of cybercrime. Based on a total of 5.687m small businesses in the UK, that equates to 52,120 jobs lost.

The average cost of fraud to a business was £35,000, which means the total cost could be up to £40bn to date.

Ian Rand, chief executive of Barclays Business Banking, said: “Fraudsters are targeting hard-working entrepreneurs, in some cases impersonating suppliers and staff, intercepting emails and sending fake invoices.

“The staggering cost of these crimes can stop a small business from investing in new jobs, training or equipment, in turn boosting local economies.”

In a bid to educate businesses on how to tackle cybercrime and protect themselves from fraud, Barclays has brought former England and Arsenal defender Sol Campbell on board.

Mr Campbell, who also owns a small business, said: “With a rise in online crime, it’s more important than ever that businesses keep an eye on the ball when it comes to cyber security.

“In business as in football, you have to be strong, versatile and flexible – and as a defender, you need to trust your natural instincts. If an email or call sounds fake, check it.”

INDEPENDENT | Caitlin Morrison