DAS Law is sponsoring the ‘Combatting Fraud’ category at the Modern Law Awards in Manchester this week. Here the firm’s Head of Litigation and Dispute Management William Ellerton shares some general advice on the first things a business should do if they believe they have been defrauded…
According to credit reporting agency Experian, the threat of fraud is rising across all sectors and business types. The company’s UK and Ireland Fraud Indicator Report for 2018 put the annual cost of fraud at £190 billion, so it’s clear that businesses are exposed to the risk of fraud more than ever before. But what should you do if you find your business has been the victim of fraudulent activity?
Once you discover that your business may have been impacted by a fraud, investigating how it may have happened, and putting in place measures to prevent it happening again, will likely become the immediate focus, but business owners should consider immediately contacting the following, regardless of the size of the fraud:
As soon as you become aware of the potential fraud against your business, this should be the first call you make. Their fraud team will start investigating it immediately and increase security on your business accounts to prevent further fraudulent transactions being completed. Depending on what has taken place, they may also start the process of potentially returning the funds.
Regardless of the nature of the fraud, it is imperative to contact the insurer – or broker if applicable – of your business to discuss whether you may have any insurance products in place which may be able to assist. You may find that, at the very least, you have access to general legal advice via a legal expenses insurance policy.
Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
The Serious Fraud Office deals with the most serious and complex fraud cases – those involving sums of more than £1m. If the fraud is not on this level, complaints about fraudulent activity within an organisation may be made to the Insolvency Service. The SFO can be contacted on 020 7084 4700.
Insolvency Service (IS)
If a complaint is considered serious enough, the Insolvency Service will either carry out an investigation or pass the case on to another public body. If enough evidence of wrongdoing is found, they can ask a court to either close the company down, or disqualify the directors of the company. You can reach the IS on 0300 678 0017.
Action Fraud (AF)
You can also report the matter to Action Fraud. Action Fraud is the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and internet crime where you should report fraud if you have been scammed, defrauded or experienced cyber-crime. To report an instance of fraud you can contact AF on 0300 123 2040.
Companies House (CH)
It may also be appropriate to report a company to Companies House, if as part of their fraudulent activity it has committed the specific offence of filing fraudulent documents. CH can be contacted on 0303 1234 500.
This is simply a list of organisations to make contact with in the event of a fraud, but it can of course be a complex area. We would always advise you seek professional legal advice on your individual case.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.