I received a call the other day from a supplier I know well who told me he was having a few issues with his bank and asked if I could I settle an invoice through a new account. I paid, but when I spoke to the supplier next he denied ever having spoken with me or having issues with his account. I think I’ve fallen victim to an AI-generated voice scam. What can I do to convince my bank I’m telling the truth — and get my money back?
Roger Bescoby, director of client relations at Conflict International, a private investigator, says it does sound like you may have fallen victim to an “AI imposter” scam. These are still very much in their infancy, but all the signs are that fraudsters are starting to shift their focus to such scams as they provide a kind of instant payday.
Your case throws up several issues. First, there’s the obvious question of where the fraudster obtained the voice recording. It’s possible the supplier’s voice was cloned from a social media clip as artificial intelligence programmes need as little as a three-second sample to replicate a human voice.
However, this wouldn’t explain how the fraudster knew an invoice was due. It could be that either you or the supplier have had your emails breached, but there is also the possibility that we’re looking at a case of collusion fraud, namely where someone within the supplier’s company has cloned your contact’s voice and then used it to dupe you out of money. If you were quoted invoice numbers, or any other sensitive, confidential information, I’d suggest collusion is likely, making this a police matter.
However, if there aren’t any signs of collusion, you’ll need to convince the bank to reimburse you. You can take some comfort from the fact that the bank is obliged to reimburse blameless victims of fraud, but perhaps less comfort from the fact the bank will launch its own investigation to ensure you met the standards expected of you, namely not failing to take proper care.
The big challenge is that it doesn’t sound like you’ll have a paper trail to prove you took proper care. The key, then, will be to move quickly and carefully, the first step being to arrange an in-person meeting with your local bank manager.
It is vital that before the meeting you build an evidence bundle: this doesn’t have to be a smoking gun, but enough to show you took due care. Note the times of any calls with both the scammer and the actual supplier to show such contact wouldn’t have set off alarm bells.
By the same token, take along any correspondence with the actual supplier that took place after the incident and ensure you take the payslip that shows you paid the money to a business account rather than that of an unverified individual. Report the incident to Action Fraud so you can take along a crime number. Combined, everything will show that you took all the steps to protect yourself.
You need to show you took proper care, but so does the bank. Ask if the onboarding obligations were followed when the receiver account was established, because if not, you may have grounds to settle.
Will we need to employ our after-school nanny?
We are looking for an after-school nanny to provide care for our children. It’s a living-out role and the nanny will work 20 hours a week, or four hours per weekday, doing school pick-up, supervising homework, making packed lunches and sorting out bags, kits and uniforms for the next school day, and preparing dinner before we take over for bath and bedtime. We may occasionally ask the nanny to work overtime in the evenings. Can they operate on a self-employed basis or will we need to employ them and set up payroll?
Kirsty Wild, a nanny employment and payroll expert from payroll services provider Nannytax.co.uk, says every arrangement is different but, due to the nature of the job, most part-time nannies don’t fit HM Revenue & Customs’ description of self-employed.
A self-employed worker can usually choose their own hours, decide what work to do, and how, when and where they do the work. They will agree on a fixed price regardless of how long the job may take and they will send someone in their place to cover in their absence, or engage helpers at their own expense.
So childminders who run services from their own homes with their own set hours tend to be classed as self-employed. By contrast, a worker is generally considered “employed” if they work a set number of hours, must undertake the work themselves, can be told at any time what to do, where to carry out the work, or when and how to do it, are paid by the hour, week or month and can be paid overtime or receive bonus payments.
In your case, it sounds like your nanny should be employed, in which case you would need to set up payroll and take on the responsibility of being their employer.
However, it’s not quite that straightforward as, in some instances, HMRC may grant a nanny self-employed status. The most common example of this would be if a nanny works in a series of temporary positions, or with three or more families at one time. Every case can differ slightly, so I would always advise the nanny to contact HMRC directly with any self-employment queries.
Parents who are looking to take on a self-employed nanny are responsible for requesting written confirmation of the self-employed status from HMRC. It’s worth noting that if you take on a self-employed nanny without carrying out the correct checks to confirm this, and it later transpires that they have not been granted this status, it is you as the employer (not the nanny) who could face serious repercussions, including fines and liability for all unpaid tax.
Our next question
Following my mother’s recent death, I was planning on gifting my 24-year-old son some of the inheritance so he can make some sensible investments. However, he’s keen to invest the money in digital assets like crypto and believes the metaverse is the way forward. Should I be worried?
If your nanny was previously self-employed, they should check with HMRC to see whether they can continue being self-employed in their new role with you, because the transfer of a nanny’s self-employed status between jobs is not automatic.
If you do employ your nanny, you will need to provide an employment contract on or before their first day of work outlining their salary, job terms, holiday allowance and so on. You will also need to carry out legal checks to make sure they have the right to work in the UK, register as an employer with HMRC, set up a PAYE scheme to declare tax and NI contributions. Your nanny will also be entitled to a pension and employment rights such as holiday, sick pay and maternity pay.
The opinions in this column are intended for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. The Financial Times Ltd and the authors are not responsible for any direct or indirect result arising from any reliance placed on replies, including any loss, and exclude liability to the full extent.
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