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Always look a gift ‘Trojan’ horse in the mouth

Health, Beauty and Pharmacy Loss Prevention Forum warns retailers about bogus purchase orders and invoice scam.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Always look a gift ‘Trojan’ horse in the mouth

British retailers caught up in an international ‘trojan horse’ invoice scam worth hundreds of thousands of pounds should report the sting to police and Action Fraud in the UK and not respond to threatening payment demand emails from suppliers who have shipped goods to bogus addresses. 

This is the warning to the High Street from the Health, Beauty and Pharmacy Loss Prevention Forum, one of 11 sector-specific Retail Loss Prevention Forums facilitated by ORIS Forums that represent many of the world’s biggest brands who have been impacted by the scam where their identities are falsely used to procure goods.

The scammers work by forging or replicating purchase orders from some of the UK’s biggest brands using convincing logo and letter-heads and even the names and email details of senior named personnel to smooth the passage of the paperwork to a number of international suppliers.

To the untrained eye, the orders look genuine and suppliers are shipping the goods to addresses in the UK.

Healthcare brand Holland and Barrett is one of the Forum members that have had their identity ‘stolen’. The scammers have used H&B paperwork and ordered tens of thousands of pounds worth of nuts and olive oil that has then been shipped to the UK.

Security manager Martin Toomey has been dealing with a number of police forces and Action Fraud after suppliers – all of whom are not regular suppliers to H&B – have demanded payment for goods not received by the health food chain.

Toomey said, “We can identify where goods are shipped to and even arrest the carriers, but they are simply the middle men. What we want is for the intelligence to trace the masterminds behind the scams. Retailers should always report these incidents to police and Action Fraud and although this may not result in action, ‘criming it’ provides an audit trail.

“Retailers should certainly not issue payment to the suppliers for goods not received or ordered by them and refer their paperwork to the police.

Many British retailers have been similarly targeted for payment for goods not received and the Met police and the NBCS have been working with retailers to build a picture of the ‘Mr Big’ behind the scam.

Chair of the Health, Beauty and Pharmacy Forum Sarah King of Sally Beauty said, “Prevention is better than cure and the suppliers must also tighten their own procedures. If they do not normally deal with our brands, they should carry out due diligence at their end to make sure the order in bona fide before making shipment and that would involve contacting the brand directly to make sure it is genuine.”

Register now for the Retail Bulletin’s 4th Loss Prevention Summit, 10th September 2013. Join your peers for this interactive, one-day event. Confirmed speakers from B&Q, Spar, Phones 4u, Scot-mid Co-op, eBay, Metropolitan Police, Retailers Against Crime, University of Leicester, National Fraud Authority, CIFAS, MeadWestvaco.

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