Businesses urged to watch out for purchase order scam

Businesses are being urged to stay alert for a scam that is targeting existing and potential suppliers of equipment to organisations such as Bridgend County Borough Council.

The scam, which has previously seen a local business defrauded out of almost £40,000 worth of goods, works in a specific way:

  • A supplier will receive an email or phone call requesting a quotation for specific items of equipment. These may be in large or small quantities, and of low-to-high values.
  • Once the quotation has been provided, a purchase order is emailed to the supplier that bears a resemblance to an authentic Bridgend County Borough Council purchase order, requesting the goods on a 30-day net order.
  • The purchase order typically includes delivery instructions to an address that may or may not be affiliated with the local authority.
  • After shipping the items of equipment, the supplier never receives payment, and is unable to retrieve the shipped products.

Bridgend County Borough Council is reminding businesses that all authentic emails from the authority will originate from a ‘@bridgend.gov.uk’ email address.

If businesses suspect that any quotation request sent by email or a subsequent purchase order may not be genuine, they can contact [email protected] to double-check.

Businesses are also being warned not to call any phone numbers contained within the fraudulent emails which purport to be local authority numbers as they may incorporate expensive service charges.

Cllr Rhys Goode, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations, said: “This is a popular scam amongst fraudsters as they can obtain high-value goods in large quantities. Unfortunately, it also causes huge damage and can devastate a small or medium-sized business.

“All instances of known fraudulent activity should be reported to South Wales Police and Action Fraud, and I strongly urge local businesses to stay alert and carry out regular checks to protect themselves against this type of fraud.”

For more tips on how to spot fraudulent emails and purchase orders, visit the council website.