Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Home Office Response to "Purchase Order Fraud"

So we first wrote about this scam August 2016 and detailed it here

A few days later and after extensive work to uncover this we detailed our findings. This is what we found

Since then I wrote to Margot James MP as she is the secretary of state for Small Business. I felt for sure she would pick up on this due to the huge risk to small business. This is what I wrote

I copied in various organisations that have been affected by this and included the University of Bath. They did respond as follows, I protect this genuine staff members email address...

Last week I got a letter from the Home Office. To conclude this appalling episode I have published the letter and added numbered highlights which I would like to comment on...

Point #1
"It is the chief officer of the force who is ultimately responsible"

I was never dealt with by a single force. Or any force for that matter. As detailed I was batted around different forces as none of them wanted to be burdened with it. I spoke with Bedfordshire Police, The Metropolitan Police and Surrey Police. I even spoke to a 'Falcon Team' Supposedly set up to tackle fraud.

Point #2
Action Fraud told me that all they do is record crime and couldn't understand why all the forces had vacated responsibility and kept sending me to them

Point #3
The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) Identify link between seemingly unconnected incidents.
'seemingly'? We had cast iron links.
We found a company in Bristol that had shipped thousands of pounds of medical equipment as victims of same fraud. Delivering to a haulage company in West Midlands
As well as University of Greenwich we found that the same scam was apparent to Aston University, University of Reading, University of Bath and others who who desperately concerned about the lack of response from the authorities.

Point #4
"Where there is enough evidence available and a viable lead, actionable intelligence"
No 'investigating' or intelligence was provided by any authorities. Our own work had uncovered real delivery addresses. This was not a 'cyber crime' of clicking on a link for a credit card number to be swiped. This was REAL goods, being delivered to an address. Is that 'actionable'? We had kept the fraudsters warm to the delivery, believing goods were coming, thinking the police would jump all over it. How mistaken we were. We also even uncovered a further address being used in stourbridge which was a haulage company that had direct communication with the fraudsters to arrange shipping the goods overseas. No one ever took this further. Actionable intelligence?

Point #5
'Intelligence packages are created and sent to the appropriate force' Not one force was interested. They had no idea what this was or how to handle it. We made circa 40 phone calls and got no where. This is simply fancy wording that covers over the harsh reality. No force acted, not due to lack of evidence or intelligence. Simple lack of willing, resource and know how.

Point #6
"I hope this letter has reassured you that the government takes fraud seriously"
This is a complete insult. I can confirm that I do NOT feel reassured. It has sapped my life of work hours, it has tied up capital and made us vulnerable. None of the groups with fancy titles designed to make people think these issues are being tackled have done anything, either proactively or reactivity. I have a folder of evidence to look at and yet we never spoke to an investigating officer. There has never even been a question about what on earth someone would want with this type of equipment? Blood Scanner, Multi-gas detectors, chemical hotplate stirrers...would this type of equipment being stolen not raise any suspicion anywhere?

To rub further salt in the wound, the same people have targeted our company again twice in the last week. How many others have been targeted? How much university staff time has been consumed? How much money and goods have been lost?

Do you think its time to set up a department that actually 'does' something? The FBI appointed a dedicated officer to this crime in the states. What have we done? Set up departments to record numbers, statistics, information on systems that don't even work. Then add them to a PowerPoint and call that crime fighting?
Obtaining money over the counter at a bank or under tunnels is how it was done in the movies 30 years ago. Unfortunately the criminals have moved with the times. Maybe the police and authorities need to do the same?


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