Suppliers beware too-good-to-be-true orders

FRAUD - building blocks

Fraudulent orders have been placed using bogus email accounts

No business is immune to fraud and here one UK operator points out how suppliers need to be wary of being duped

Enrique Romay is a dedicated supplier of onions, citrus and watermelons from the Valencia region in Spain with a proud history dating back to the 1950s.

Last month, assistant general manager Quique Romay was pleased to receive what he thought was a genuine first order from well-known UK foodservice operator Reynolds Catering Supplies for a whole truckload of the Spanish firm’s Gastrole branded onions.

Email scam

However, the emailed request complete with Reynolds logo, was sent from a bogus account of a named individual which differed from his authentic one only in that it featured “.eu” rather than “.com” as its top level domain.

“I never thought the order was from anyone other than Reynolds,” Quique Romay says. “After receiving the order, we loaded on a Monday and the consignment was delivered on the Thursday.”

But the delivery address Romay was told to deliver to was not Reynolds’ national distribution centre, but a warehouse in the Tottenham area of London. And it was only when he called and asked to speak to his named contact at Reynolds later that day to confirm delivery, that the suspected fraud was uncovered and the truckload of onions gone without trace.

Rapid response

Steve Rudge, head of procurement at Reynolds says: “These incidents are extremely concerning for the industry and appear to be a result of an extensive international scam. We would like to remind all organisations to be vigilant and suspicious of any traders who appear unusually keen to do business.”

Reynolds and Romay have since reported the incident to Action Fraud, the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. In a statement issued to Produce Business UK, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau at the City of London Police said the case was being assessed and the victim will be updated 28 days after first reporting the incident later in July.

Meanwhile, Reynolds has also moved to prevent other potential suppliers falling victim to this apparent scam by highlighting the issue on its website and drawing attention to the strict processes it has in place when agreeing supplier relationships. It also points out that delivery of all its supplies are directly to its national Waltham Cross distribution centre and never to any other address.

“We would encourage anyone aware of similar activities to report them to the appropriate authorities as soon as possible, so the individuals committing these crimes can be caught,” Rudge says.

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