TIAA Anti-Crime Specialists have been made aware that fundraising cheques from a number of schools made payable to the charity Children in Need have been intercepted by fraudsters.
The fundraising cheques were sent by post to the PO Box address connected to the Children in Need charity. It appears that cheques were intercepted and details, including the payee name and amount, were changed. For example, a cheque for £92.65 was amended to £3,000.65. The changes made are said to look convincing.
In some cases, the banks have noted the abnormalities and stopped payment. However, intelligence suggests that a number of the payments have been successfully paid to a personal account or cashed for much larger sums.
Cheque fraud prevention
- Avoid the use of envelopes which may show a cheque is inside, for example window envelopes.
- Retain copies of cheques for all charity donations.
- Always use indelible ink-based pens or black or blue ballpoints pens on cheques. If you enter details with a printer, make sure you use approved machines and toners. This makes it harder to alter or erase the writing.
- Cross through with a pen any blank spaces on cheques; after the payee name and after the payment amount written in words, for example. If you use a computer, make sure the software fills in any blank spaces with asterisk (*) symbols.
- Don’t leave large spaces between words. Make sure the machine uses ‘zero’ instead of ‘nil’, which can easily be changed fraudulently to ‘nine’.
- If a new cheque book is due and it doesn’t arrive, contact your bank. Consider collecting business cheques from the bank as they can be stolen from the postal system.
- Check your bank statements regularly to keep track of cheque payments.
- Avoid using just one signatory within your business, so others can pick up discrepancies.
- This alert provides information and advice about fraud and economic crime, and the risks associated with it. If your organisation has fallen victim to fraud you should report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visit: Reporting fraud and cyber crime | Action Fraud
- If you think that your organisation has been a victim of cheque fraud, contact your bank immediately.
For further discussion and support, including fraud awareness training, contact: Melanie Alflatt, Director – Risk and Advisory Email: email@example.com