Iceland has issued a warning to suppliers over fraudsters placing bogus orders by impersonating the retailer.
It said suppliers were being regularly targeted by conmen pretending to be Iceland employees.
In the most recent cases the fraudsters used the bogus email firstname.lastname@example.org to place orders with suppliers on the Continent.
Those who fell for the scam delivered items to warehouses in London and the West Midlands. Iceland then received an invoice for products it had not ordered and never received.
Recently, this included €278,000 of tinned tuna fish ordered from a Portuguese company in April and €23,000 of wine from Germany this month.
Iceland warned suppliers that any valid orders for goods would only ever be placed by an Iceland buyer based at its head office in Deeside, Wales. It would never place an order just by email and it would also want to inspect the products and visit manufacturing sites prior to ordering. Plus, valid orders would only be sent from an email address ending in iceland.co.uk
“Fraud is rife in the supply chain and is causing serious losses to smaller European suppliers who can ill afford it, and inflicting collateral reputational damage on UK retailers including Iceland,” Iceland chief executive Malcolm Walker told The Grocer. “We have logged multiple reports with Action Fraud UK over the years but seen no evidence of fraudulent delivery addresses being monitored or the individuals responsible being investigated or apprehended. It is past time that the authorities took decisive action.”
Action Fraud said that between January and December 2016 it passed on 138 reports of distribution fraud to police forces. Victims of distribution fraud lost £3.8m in the past year alone. “Organised criminal groups are exploiting the good names of British companies to dupe European businesses into delivering goods directly to the criminals,” said Steve Proffitt, deputy head of Action Fraud.
“The damage to reputation both for suppliers and the retailers involved can be detrimental to future business and we urge those vulnerable to this type of fraud to be cautious and to perform more due diligence before making these deliveries. Please talk to the retailer before accepting late changes to a delivery address.”
Meanwhile, another scam has also been in operation targeting workers in India. Workers are being offered non-existent jobs at Iceland and then asked to pay hundreds of pounds to cover visa and other costs. The scam offers them an 11-hour a week job, for £48,000 per annum and 60 days holiday.