Council targeted by £38k fraudsters

Thame Town Hall
Thame Town Hall

Thame Town Council narrowly escaped being defrauded out of thousands of taxpayers’ pounds by identity scammers.

Councillors were told about the fraud attempt and an inquiry into banking processes at the authority, at its meeting last week.

Scammers attempted to clone cheques used by the council and redirect funds. The largest cheque created by the criminals under a fake name was for £38,000.

The fraud was spotted by the bank and has led to an internal review by the council of its accounting processes.

But a recent audit report showed that Thame Town Council’s financial controls were up to scratch.

Town clerk Helen Stewart, said: “Some person outside the council has been trying to use us for false identity theft.

“It was uncomfortable for the town council to have to be told that there are these sort of things going on - but it’s a 
modern day thing these days.

“As a consequence of this we have reviewed our internal processes.”

She added: “Our processes were so tight that it would have been the bank’s responsibility, so there would have been no repercussions for the town council whatsoever.”

The bank’s fraud team is investigating the crime after the crooks’ plot to try and cash the fake cheques using bogus bank accounts and names was rumbled.

Ms Stewart, who broke the news to councillors, added: “Nothing was cashed because our banking processes are very stringent.