By
8th Jul 2021

UKUPC (UK Universities Purchasing Consortia) have alerted companies of a fraud which is targeting suppliers of goods to the education sector. The scam has targeted companies across the UK and EU and is reported to run into several million pounds.

The scam works by the perpetrator masquerading as a university and requesting goods on extended payment terms. The process includes obtaining a quote, and then a fake purchase order is provided, which looks like it originated at the university.

The delivery address is directed to an address such as a storage unit that may or may not be linked to the university. The supplier ships the goods to the address, and the perpetrator then collects them and dispatches them overseas. This has the potential to damage the relationship between suppliers and the organisation, as well as leaving the supplier with lost goods, plus there may be associated reputational damage arising from adverse publicity, investigation, or being incorrectly identified as a non-paying customer.

Key to this scam is the use of fake email addresses for the correspondence plus other incorrect details such as the wrong name or the wrong extension.

Red flags for suppliers: - shipping to a storage facility or a freight forwarding service or having the shipping address changed after order is placed.

This alert provides information and advice to organisations about fraud and economic crime and the risks associated with it. Should your organisation fall victim to fraud, you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visit: https:// www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime.

How to protect your organisation from fraud:

  • Spotting fake email addresses and domains is vital in identifying suspicious activities. Remember - domains may be very similar in appearance
  • Ensure both the supplier and the customer have correct contact details maintained such as email and phone number
  • Agree and control the authorised shipping address for the organisation

Should you require further discussion and support, including fraud awareness training services, please contact: Melanie Alflatt, Director of Anti-Crime Services at: fraud@tiaa.co.uk.