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£1.5m fraud at Lincolnshire County Council prevented thanks to quick-thinking employee

A vigilant employee prevented a major fraud against Lincolnshire County Council when scammers tried to falsely change bank account details of a contractor.

The council's IT security blocks most spam and malicious emails, however a more sophisticated email scam had reached finance staff, informing them a supplier had changed their bank account information.

Lucy Pledge, audit and risk manager at the council, said: "The correspondence to the council looked entirely genuine and identical to official letters from this supplier. Because the staff member took the time to double check using an independent phone number -not the one in the letter- they quickly discovered this was fraudulent. The next payment due to be made to this supplier was £1.5m."

Lincolnshire County Council (7541826)
Lincolnshire County Council (7541826)

The council's IT systems blocked 7993 malicious emails during May alone, on top of 276,241 emails deemed to be spam.

Coun Alex Maughan (Con), the council's fraud champion, said: "Bank mandate fraud is just one type of scam that the council is targeted with every day. We take all fraud seriously and our staff receive specific training to pick up on anything that may not be genuine. We are not an easy target and continue to make every effort to protect public money."

The council takes a multi-layered approach to preventing digital scams and doesn't just rely on one set of safeguards. By using technology such as email security, fraud and security policies and staff training and awareness, the risk of fraud taking place is reduced.

The incident was reported to Action Fraud.

You can find more information about fraud against councils in Lincolnshire on Lincolnshire County Council's website. Fraud against councils can also be reported through the confidential hotline on 0800 0853716 or e-mail whistleblowing@lincolnshire.gov.uk

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