A Leicester-based business has been the victim of payment fraud after being contacted by someone posing as one of its suppliers. The scam email asked the company to start paying into a new bank account, requesting an update to the company’s database.
The incident, from June 2021, saw a total of nearly £60,000 transferred to the fraudulent account. Details were changed in the database, resulting in four separate payments to fraudsters.
Officers from the force’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU) investigated the incident and executed warrants on March 25 in Leicester, Highfields and Braunstone. Three people have been arrested for this scam, and a fourth person has yet to be voluntarily interviewed.
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Nicole McIntyre, Force ECU, participated in the enforcement activity. She said: “What is clear from these investigations is that opportunistic thieves will use any means to exploit individuals and businesses for their own gain.
“We encourage people to remain vigilant of these offences. Businesses are encouraged to double-check any requests to change bank details directly with the business and not act solely on emails or posting.”
A 26-year-old woman, a 45-year-old man and a 24-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of violating the Proceeds of Crime Act during the incident. They have all since been released pending further investigation, but a 31-year-old woman is to be voluntarily interviewed at a later date. A number of cryptocurrency assets were also seized during the operation.
A wider investigation has also been underway as over the past week officers from the ECU, Force Priority Team, Digital Media Investigators and Modern Slavery Team executed warrants to 15 addresses across Leicester and one address in Derbyshire. The objective was to identify individuals suspected of laundering money for organized criminals involved in high value fraud. Four people have been identified and are currently assisting the police in their investigations.
Ms McIntyre continued: “Any messages arriving at an individual’s addresses, particularly in relation to bank accounts or utility bills addressed to someone not living locally, should be treated with caution. You should report this activity to this bank or utility company, and they can put a marker so that the activity cannot continue.
“This will help us disrupt and prevent further breaches. If the activity is of a more concerning nature, you can report to Action Fraud or to us via 101 or report online at www.leics.police.uk. We will continue to carry out operations of this nature and to disrupt the activities of these organized criminals. »
Last month, payment fraud was also the subject of a nationwide campaign by the National Crime Agency (NCA). The campaign aimed to educate and raise awareness about this type of fraud and the steps people should take to reduce their risk of falling victim to it.
A spokesman for the force said: “Criminals need financial mules to launder the proceeds of their crimes. Usually the mules will not know where the money is coming from, they can be approached online including via social media sites, or in person.Sometimes they can be persuaded by people to do it themselves, or on the pretext of getting a mule job before their details are used to commit money laundering money this way and the funds mostly dissipate overseas.”
For more details on how to stay alert, campaign details can is located here.