The Italian Job | AccountingWEB

The Italian Job


I’d be grateful for any comments on the way forward for a client who has been conned out of £18k. Briefly, the client deals in machinery and recently sold a machine brought for £18k from Italy.  The Italians were paid, but alarm bells went off when the Italians continued to chase for payment. Most of the dealings between the Italians and our client were via e-mail.  It now appears that all these e-mails were unknowingly being made via a fraudster who was able to pass on, change, delete and otherwise do whatever he wanted with these messages.  This 3-way e-mail exchange has been going on since November!   To cut a long story short, the £18k was paid into a UK HSBC bank account belonging to the fraudster and the Italians still want their money. The HSBC refuses to provide any help or information about the fraudster’s bank account – they quote data protection.   The police said that there’s too much paperwork involved in getting info off the HSBC so there’s nothing they’ll do.  They reckon it might be an inside job and suggested the client contact the Italian police.  Basically the police are simply not interested. If this is an inside job we reckon it’s come from the Italian’s end (and they have had an employee just depart to Brazil...) in which case the Italian’s should share some of this loss.  But we simply don’t know. It would be really helpful if the HSBC could provide the client / the police with some info about who ran/runs the fraudster’s HSBC account. We'd be grateful for any suggestions about how the client might proceed.  Is there any way to persuade the HSBC, or the police, to be more co-operative?  Any other ideas? Many thanks.


Oh Dear    1 thanks

dougc99 | | Permalink

I am afraid your client is in a pickle.

The police would appear to have washed their hands of this one and filed it in the 'too difficult to handle tray' (The financial limit for economic crime units is about £250 - £300K for them to take it on unles it can be proved to be in the public interest i.e. a masive fraud scheme involving many people or targeted at the vulnerable sector of the community).

Civil litigation would be expensive and difficult to instigate as it would appear there is very little information regarding the recipient of the funds. The Italian firm would appear to have no 3rd party liability to "share" the pain they have done nothing wrong based on the information provided in the comment - they may also be victims.

It would appear that the client has erred by cutting corners and dealing with nearly everything by email.

Not withstanding this it might be prudent to seek legal advice any way and for them (the clients)to check their insurance polocies - they might be covered.

They also need to look at their fraud risk procedures and supply chain risk procedures.


Doug Cooper CFE CIRM

report to Action Fraud

The Black Knight | | Permalink

Apparently these are the only people interested in fraud.

As this low level low value fraud is no longer the responsibility of the police, they are too busy nicking motorists.

probably file the report in a dusty box.

but you can but try.

permitted crimes

The Black Knight | | Permalink

There does seem to be a whole plethora of profitable crime that is allowed.

One has to ask who is the stupid one for not taking advantage?

Perhaps it is the honest that need to change their behaviour.

Whose email was hacked ...

JC | | Permalink

Was it your client or the Italian supplier who had their email account hacked - sounds like the Italian supplier?

Check out the Italian supplier to see whether this 'missing payment scenario' is a recurring theme with their other clients or if this was the first time they had been 'hit'

Make the police do their job.

chatman | | Permalink

It is the responsibility of the police to investigate crime. It is not their job to decide what they want to investigate and what they do not, as Doreen Lawrence showed them when they decided not to investigate the murder of her son, Stephen.

I would make a complaint, first to the police, and second, if the police do not act, to the IPCC. If neither of these choose to act, then your client should contact their MP.

paddy55's picture


paddy55 | | Permalink

In civil proceedings, there is discovery of documents and sub-poena proceedings to compel their production,

I would check out to see if either of these could be relevant in your case.

Banks... don't you just love 'em?

waltere | | Permalink

When my 84 year old mother-in-law recently tried to open a new account with a UK high street bank, they left no stone unturned to ensure that she wasn't, in reality, an international terrorist or the leader of a Columbian drugs cartel.  Here we have a prima facie case of fraud where the bank prefers to sit on its corporate @rse and cite "data protection".  Just who, exactly, are they trying to protect?

Could your client be persuaded to publicise this case more widely - for example through a consumer TV programme or newspaper column?  Banks really don't like publicity and faced with a bit of unwanted exposure it's surprising what they suddenly remember they can do / should already have done in these cases.  The 18K may already have flown the HSBC nest, but if there is any kind of paper trail it might just be possible to track it down.


++update++    1 thanks

Coopers Willy | | Permalink

Hi all

Thanks for the comments.  Especially Mr Black Knight, as thanks to Action Fraud the police have taken an interest.  Seems a fraudster has been working out of Aylesbury and the police have frozen three bank accounts.  My client's money has indeed flown the nest, but the Met are now involved and it'll be interesting to see where this all goes.




Re The Update

dougc99 | | Permalink

Coopers, I am glad the police have taken an interest in the case. As I said if it is in the public interest and this would appear to be the case they will take it on. This would appear to be a well organised fraud with the hijaking/takeover of companies email accounts and details.

Businesses need to be ever watchful these days. I am afraid that the police are always one step behind the thieves!

Your report to Action Fraud should have been fed into the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau which will have brought all the intelligence together and allowed the police to target and intervene at such an early point.

Any fraud should be reported to Action Fraud whatever the scale and amount.

Good luck


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