Anti-fraud group Profit is highlighting the key warning signs of a crime in a travel business and what to do as part of its Counter Fraud Campaign 2019.

Part six of the email campaign, run in conjunction with the Fraud Intelligence Network (Fin) and the City of London Police, gives a list of initial questions for travel businesses to ask to establish if criminal activity has taken place.

These questions include what has happened to make you think a fraud has taken place; what impact has it had on the company; how has it happened; who is responsible; could this have been done by that person alone; when did it happen and what evidence is there to back up the belief there had been criminal activity.

Until there is more information, Profit advises companies to assume the fraudster may not be acting alone and therefore carry out an investigation sensitively and confidentially. Ideally this should be run by a trusted senior manager or external third party such as a company legal adviser.

There are numerous early signs of a fraud to look out for in a business. These range from several people claiming to hold bookings that are not in the system; card numbers, usually the last four digits, repeatedly appearing on refunds; common names or addresses of payees or customers; clients claiming additional charges have been asked for after payment and transactions taking place at odd hours to staff showing signs of having large personal debts or lifestyles incompatible with their earnings.

If a fraud is discovered, firms should get professional advice on how to proceed and conduct a full internal investigation. Any internal investigation must also be carried out in a way that builds credibility with the company’s own employees and outside regulators, customers and media.

If the fraud is thought to be larger scale, Profit suggests forming a core team of senior managers, public relations specialists, HR and IT staff, legal advisers, auditors and accountants to deal with any issues that arise.

Profit also warns that companies should be careful to preserve all documents and not to jeopardise any potential police investigation.