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Criminals Target Council in £3.2m Fraud Attempt

Friday 26th August, 2022

A council defrauded of £1.1m was targeted for an additional £3.2m, an investigation has found.

The second foiled attempt targeted Bedford Borough Council, South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (Semlep) and Luton Borough Council.

It attempted to use email accounts to change bank details and redirect funds.

A National Investigation Service (Natis) inquiry said it was likely the same criminal group was involved.

Mimicked and compromised email addresses of genuine employees from the three organisations were used by fraudsters, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The first fraud targeted money intended to help pay for a new education block at Mark Rutherford School in Bedford and was being held by Luton Borough Council.

The Natis report found that the second attempted fraud "mirrored" requests made about changing bank account details in the funds intended for the school which were stolen.

The council was asked to make changes to recorded bank details for Bedford Borough Council so funds would be "redirected to another illicit account".

These altered email addresses were noticed and interested parties alerted to the crime.

Currently there are no evidential links between the two frauds but Natis said it was "highly likely that both were committed by the same criminal entities".

Despite the second fraud being foiled Natis said it was still deemed a "substantive offence".

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