Thursday 20th February, 2013
The National Crime Agency (NCA) has issued a fraud alert to the construction industry over an increasing number of “invoice mandate” frauds during 2013. The NCA, working with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, has said that there were 34 reports of invoice mandate fraud from the construction industry between 1 January and the end of October last year.
The majority of the targets were large scale civil engineers, although a number of smaller companies have also fallen victim to the predatory practice. Of the 34 cases, one involved fraud totalling £1,101,165, with the majority of cases estimated at between £95,000 and £160,000.
Mandate fraud, also known as creditor fraud, payment diversion fraud and supplier account fraud, involves criminals contacting companies pretending to be a supplier or customer. They then advise the company that their bank account details have changed which enables them to take control of the account and to benefit from unauthorised payments from the company.
The majority of approaches to the companies were by email (56%) using either the company’s email address or one similar enough not to be flagged as suspicious. Other victims have been contacted by telephone (21%) or by letter (18%). In these cases a company letterhead was used with a signature forged on behalf of the company director. How the criminals managed to gain access to the client list within the targeted companies is uncertain.