21 June 2018

Fraudsters are targeting schools

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau in conjunction with the City of London Police have reported an increased number of cases where schools are becoming the target of so-called Chief Executive Officer fraud (CEO Fraud).

CEO fraud occurs when a fraudster sends an email to a member of staff, purporting to be the head or principal, instructing that member of staff to make a one-off, usually urgent, bank transfer to a nominated bank account. The email will come from an email address that appears to be identical, or at least very similar, to the head’s usual email address.

This has led to a number of schools suffering financial loss. The figures in question are usually in the region of £8,000-£10,000.

How to avoid becoming a victim of this type of fraud

There are a number of steps you can take to avoid suffering financial loss as a result of fraud, these include:

  1. Ensuring that you have robust processes in place to corroborate and verify any payments that are due to be made and the supplier’s details. If you have any concerns about any requests then you should independently contact that supplier, using details you know to be correct, to verify the position.
  2. Making employees aware of these processes and encouraging them to challenge requests for urgent payments, particularly when they appear to come from senior members of staff.
  3. Always ensuring that confidential information is shredded before it is disposed of. This will limit the information that a fraudster is able to obtain about you to be able to commit the fraud which, in turn, will limit how convincing they can make themselves appear.

Email addresses can be spoofed to appear as though an email is from someone you know. If an email is unexpected or unusual, then don’t click on the links or open the attachments. Staff should not be allowed to check emails from administrator accounts.

If you have been a victim of this type of fraud, or are concerned that you may have been targeted, please get in touch.

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About the Author
Hannah Wilding, Solicitor
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