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7 Online scams targeting veterinary practice owners

By June 22, 2021June 9th, 2022No Comments

The advent of technology is reinventing decades-old con jobs into online scams, as fraudsters continue to tap the power of technology. Unfortunately, people are still falling for these updated versions of rip-offs, which is resulting in loss of property, privacy and sometimes freedom.

These scams are also targeted at veterinary practice owners, where scammers focus on destroying their financial and societal standings. Practice owners are also targeted for what they are worth, or sometimes to just eliminate competition. Whichever the case, the threat of online scams is very real for practice owners and practitioners, and therefore they need to understand how scammers are targeting them.

Types of online scams

Phishing scams

These are the most frequently used scams targeting veterinary practitioners. They use fake emails and text messages to target veterinary practices to give out sensitive information.

The primary goal of scammers using these methods is to steal information from their victims, create online profiles based on information stolen and use the information as their own. Scammers are also able to use the information obtained to target their victims with computer viruses or leaking sensitive information online in a bid to destroy the credibility of a veterinary practice.

Some scammers also use the phishing method to target practice owner’s credit cards and banking information.

Scammers using this method purport to be from reputable businesses, that are easy for veterinary practitioners to trust. The design of the website, the language used, emails used look legit at first glance. They then ask visitors to give out information such as social security numbers, phone numbers, websites and social media accounts. Submitting this information results in these scammers gaining access to your accounts.

Lucca can protect your email account for as little as $20 a month. Giving you Phishing protection and complete email history backups.

Bank account takeover scams

These scams involve sending veterinary practitioners and owners fake emails that are laced with malicious software such as keystroke loggers. These software are able to record online banking details and send them back to scammers.

Scammers are then able to use the information obtained to purchase products online and withdraw money using victims’ banking information. These types of scams are sometimes also run concurrently with phishing emails by scammers to increase their success rate.

Veterinary practitioners and owners should monitor their online banking activity regularly to make sure that scammers have no access to their information. In case a scam is detected, they should ask their bank’s anti-fraud units to investigate and lockout the attackers from their accounts.

One tip is to silo your bank accounts. What I mean is to setup a free email account like AnimalHospitalBank123@gmail.com. Only use that email account to sign into your bank accounts. That way any banking communication that you get to any other email account you know is a scam. I would then change the email account every year and close the preceding year’s email account.

Veterinary directory scams

Directory scams are common scams with veterinary practices. These scams promise victims that can place their practice in an exclusive directory that only lists top veterinary practices in the country or in a region. They offer proof through a website that has some directory listing veterinary practices in a country or a region. They then ask for a king’s ransom for your practice to be listed on their website.

However, these directories are scams and in most cases, they do not list exclusive members. These websites are designed to hoodwink veterinary practices and urge them to subscribe to their service. After subscription, these scammers gain access to your account and are able to charge you as much money as they can before the charging loop is closed.

False invoices

Every month, veterinary practices receive and clear multiple bills and invoices that have accumulated during a specified period. For scammers, they see a vulnerability in these scheduled invoices and they try to slip fake invoices to these practices and their clients. This is one of the top hacks we see in most veterinary hospitals that seek our help. Their hospital was hacked and the hacker started sending fake invoices to all the clients in their practice management system.

Fraudsters also research the type of vendors a practice does business with and make invoices that resemble these businesses. They also research the type of invoices that are likely to be sent to veterinary practices, create phishing emails and extort money from these practices.

To avoid being a victim of this type of scam, good accountants are required to make sure that only valid invoices are paid. They should also make proper procedures on how to pay for invoices that question any bill payment without proper backup.

Using the Lucca email guard will also help to flag these fake invoices coming from known bad locations. One added benefit is as soon as a hospital flags a hacker within the Lucca email guard app, every hospital protected by Lucca gets the update. Immediately protecting you from new updated threats. Alone we are weak but together we are strong!

Valuation fraud

Veterinary owners are targeted for this type of fraud that aims to defraud them of their hard-earned money.

Scammers send fake emails to veterinary practice owners requesting to either buy their practice or they have someone willing to pay them to sell their practice and all its clients. If a practice owner falls for the scam, a meeting is scheduled, either in person, online, or through email. After the meeting, owners are asked to make a deposit for valuation experts who will determine how much their practice is worth.

After the initial payment, scammers disappear and practice owners are defrauded of their money. With the rise of consolidators within the veterinary space, we are seeing more and more of these types of scams popping up.

Office supply scams

These types of frauds target veterinary offices and remind them about their orders or re-order of office supplies such as copier toners. If a practice falls victim to this scam, scammers send these items to their offices.

The problem comes during the payment of the items, where the scammers overvalue their supplies and order veterinary practitioners to pay. Failing to pay results in harassment and lawsuit threats from the scammers.

To curb this scam, practice owners should familiarize themselves with laws regarding unordered supplies. For example, in the US, if a scammer does this, practice owners are not required by law to pay them since merchandise delivered unordered is regarded as gifts.

Business coaches scams

These scammers promise practice owners that they have years of experience in the industry and they can help a practice to grow. They promise to coach practice owners on how they can make their practice prosper.

To get the coaching, however, these scammers ask for an upfront tutoring fee. The marketers of these courses are also very convincing and many people end up falling for the scams. They emphasize on the success and convince buyers of the courses to ignore the risks they are getting into.

The good news

It’s not overly complicated or expensive to help protect your veterinary hospital from these scams. If you need help protecting your practice shoot us an email on our contact form at https://lucca.vet

Peace, Love & Plants-

Clint Latham

Director of Veterinary Data Security

www.lucca.vet