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Scammers impersonating Fire Service and Police to commit mandate fraud

Purchase order
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has noticed a trend in fraudsters impersonating public sector bodies and placing orders with businesses that have an existing supply relationship.

This type of mandate fraud relies on the relationship between the business and the public body, as well as payment terms being agreed and the product being delivered before payment is required.

How it works

Businesses are usually contacted by fraudsters on the phone who spark interest by wanting to place large purchase orders. 

The scammers then switch and start to communicate with the businesses via email, consistent with previous dealings with the real public sector body.

The prior working relationship with the real public body is why this scam is so convincing. The fraudsters also keep all the correspondence, details and logos the same. 

Once the purchase terms have been agreed, the fraudsters schedule a delivery to addresses where they can intercept the delivery. In order to cover their tracks and not arouse suspicion they will usually choose closed Fire and Police stations. 

Prevention and protection top tips

  • Compare email addresses and other details to previous correspondence.
  • Be aware if there has been a period of time between purchase orders. If in doubt request clarification from an alternatively sourced email address/phone number.
  • Don’t be afraid to question when you are dealing with a public body representative that you have not previously dealt with.
  • Don’t be afraid to question when the delivery address differs from the historical ones.

To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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