Fraud alert for schools and staff

There has been an increase in cases where schools have been the targeted victim for fraudsters. Information and advice is available about these incidents and what you can to prevent it happening to you.

Although no specific reports have been received in Northern Ireland you are encouraged to remain vigilant.

What has happened

There has been an increase in the volume of fraud reports whereby schools are the targeted victim. This has resulted in substantial financial losses for several schools that have fallen victim to this type of fraud.

A school is targeted by a fraudster who pretends to be the Head Teacher or  Principal. The fraudster contacts a member of staff with responsibility for authorising financial transfers and requests for a one off, often urgent, bank transfer to be made.

So far the amounts have been between £8,000 and £10,000.

What you should do

There are certain things that schools and individual teachers can do to prevent this fraud happening:

  • Ensure that you have robust processes in place to verify and support all requests to change any supplier or payment details.
  • Get in touch with the supplier (or internal colleague) directly, using contact details you know to be correct, to confirm that a request you have received is legitimate.
  • All employees should be aware of these procedures and encouraged to challenge requests they think may be suspicious, particularly urgent sounding requests from senior employees.
  • Sensitive information you post publicly, or dispose of incorrectly, can be used by fraudsters to carry out fraud against you. The more information they have about you, the more convincingly they can pretend to be one of your legitimate suppliers or employees.
  • Always shred confidential documents before throwing them away.
  • 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.

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