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Police make arrests made over European Distribution Fraud

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has proactively arrested two males over European Distribution Fraud (EDF) as a result of reports made to Action Fraud.

Prison guard

EDF happens when a European manufacturer or supplier is contacted by a fraudster claiming to be a well-known UK company and places a large order of goods. These goods are sent to the UK where they are picked up by criminals and never paid for.

GMP made the arrests on the 9th January within the North of England after collaboration between Action Fraud, National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) and the UK supply victims.

Once reports had been made to Action Fraud, through close partnership working and analysis from the NFIB, GMP then conducted a proactive operation during which the fraudsters ordered fresh food and alcohol from UK suppliers. The offenders committed a series of frauds in excess of £1 million.

Lack of reporting

The investigation has revealed that there is a lack of reporting by affected companies - without this vital intelligence a successful outcome would be less likely as well as the true picture of EDF is not being reflected.

In some EDF cases, innocent hauliers are employed by the criminals to unwittingly transport the goods around the country, sometimes resulting in a loss for the haulier concerned but also placing their employees at risk of arrest.

Protect your businesses against European distribution fraud

  • Check any documents for poor spelling and grammar – this is often a sign that fraudsters are at work. If English is not your first language and you are not confident that you can do this, try and find someone that can carry out these checks for you.
  • Check the authenticity of the correspondence by completing thorough comparisons to the domain name used by the legitimate company. Authenticate the addresses and contact telephone numbers used. 
  • Use an internet search engine to see if this company has been cloned previously to make fraudulent orders. If it has then verify authenticity of the order via telephone. 
  • Verify the order by calling or emailing the UK retailer. Use telephone numbers or email addresses found on the retailers website – do not use the details given on the suspicious email for verification purposes. 
  • Where bank transfer documentation is sent, check the authenticity by contacting the bank, using contact details researched on the internet. Due diligence processes to be adhered to for this documentation. 
  • Authenticate the delivery address by checking that it is a warehouse or storage facility of the UK retailer. 
  • Instruct your delivery drivers about the risk and ensure that they do not change the drop off point without checking with you first.

If fraud has been committed, report it to Action Fraud. (Please include the prefix XXXEDXXX in the free text box of the online tool).

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