Gerflor warns other manufacturers and distributors about professional scam

By DAVID STRYDOM

GERFLOR has lost thousands of pounds in a professional scam that appears to revolve around floor-fitters obtaining products for nothing. The manufacturer is now warning other manufacturers and distributors about the dangers of fake orders taking place in the flooring sector.

Janet Train, commercial manager, operations and finance at Gerflor UK, says the latest incident started when they fielded calls from a Kevin Peters, who has a strong Liverpudlian accent, and who claimed to work with a trusted Gerflor distributor.

‘He checked out in several phone calls and emails, and had created an email address supposedly connected to our distributor,’ says Janet. ‘Then he sent us an order very like one we would have typically received from our distributor.

‘He marked it urgent and indicated he would collect it. Collection was arranged from our warehouse in Warwick and the order was processed on our distributor’s account.’

A local carrier from Coventry, to which cash was paid for the collection, was used. ‘They came in and collected, with a delivery address in Manchester. The carrier took the goods to Manchester where they were met by a van. The goods were offloaded from the carrier and loaded onto another van.’

The first Gerflor knew about any fraudulent practice was when its distributor queried the invoice from Gerflor. ‘They stipulated it wasn’t their order or their order number and that it had nothing to do with them.’

Janet has the phone and email details of Kevin Peters, but the number is no longer being answered. ‘It was answered several times during the ordering process, but then Kevin Peters became unreachable,’ Janet says.

Gerflor contacted the collection company which told them this wasn’t the first time this had happened. It turned out the collectors had been paid each time for their deliveries, which had also involved another well-known LVT manufacturer for a delivery in Macclesfield.

‘So, in our case, the identity of our distributor was stolen so goods could be fraudulently obtained from us,’ says Janet.

‘I’ve reported it to Action Fraud with the police and filled out the relevant information because the local police, or any national police, don’t deal with fraud directly. It all goes through actionfraud.police.uk which, I believe, is monitored by the London Metropolitan Police, who then decide whether to follow up.’

Janet says Gerflor has given this information to the other LVT manufacturer in the hope it will register the fraud on the same website. In addition, a Gerflor manager was due, at the time of writing, to meet our distributor to ask if they’d be willing to also register it as well.’

Janet warns that all manufacturers and distributors are potentially at risk, and that many more may have suffered fraud but not declared it.

Incidents can be logged on the Action Fraud website, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime and takes crime and information reports on behalf of the police and gives advice and fraud prevention guidance.

Action Fraud doesn’t have investigation powers, but the reports taken by it are sent to the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) which is run by the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud.

The NFIB collates and analyses intelligence on fraud, identifying viable lines of enquiry and developing packages for submitting to a police force for investigation. The NFIB’s systems assess reports of fraud and cybercrime from across the UK, helping build a national picture of where fraud and cybercrime is taking place and how.

Experts review the data from these reports to decide whether there is enough information to send to a police force for investigation. The NFIB aims to send you an update in writing about 28 working days after you have made your fraud report, to advise you what action has been taken on your report, for example if it has been sent to a police force for investigation.