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International fraud network conned universities out of thousands

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Several universities, NHS trusts and councils have been conned out of millions of pounds by a criminal conspiracy.

The crime network targeted 22 organisations across the country, with the money stolen being transferred to international bank accounts. The scheme that obtained the money is known as divert fraud and had the potential to take as much as £20m, the majority of which would have been found within the public sector.

Key members of the network were jailed for up to ten years last month, with courts hearing that they not only targeted companies within the UK but also in Poland, Dubai and Nigeria. In each case, a hoax email, letter or fax was sent claiming to be a company already carrying out contracted works for each organisation or company, giving new bank details for these existing contracts.

Derby University was conned out of more than £314k, with £173,818 eventually recovered by the bank. The Royal College of Art paid out £1.26m, and Kingston University lost £1.75m – luckily in both cases, the full sum was recovered and returned. Plymouth University were also targeted, however no money was taken.

The conspiracy took place over 18 months, with Guernsey government being the most heavily affected, losing £2.6m to the fraudulent network.

Image courtesy of Vicky Teinaki.




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