An East Sussex school was among the victims of a nationwide school fraud operation that resulted in the total loss of more than £145,000, according to the City of London Police.
Between September 1, 2017 and February 20, 2018, the City of London Police was made aware of 48 instances of schools being targeted by fraudsters pretending to be the head teacher in emails.
One of the reported schools was based in East Sussex but a spokesman for the City of London Police could not specify which school had been targeted.
In most cases the fraudster would contact a member of school staff who has the responsibility for authorising financial transfers and ‘requested for a one off, often urgent, bank transfer to be made’, according to the City of London Police.
Contact has often been made by email from a ‘spoofed’ or ‘similar’ email address to the one the headteacher would use, a spokesman for the City of London Police said.
The chief executive of Action Fraud said: “The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB) has seen an increase in recent weeks in the volume of CEO Fraud reports whereby schools are the targeted victim. This has resulted in substantial financial losses for several schools that have fallen victim to this type of fraud.
“The amounts requested (by the fraudsters) have been between £8,000 and £10,000.”
Data – provided to this newspaper by the City of London Police – showed a dramatic increase in the number of schools targeted nationwide in December 2017 and January 2018.
In December 2017, 15 schools were targeted with 16 targeted in January 2018, the data showed.
There was a total recorded loss of £33,587 in that month – an average loss of £2,239 per report.
In February 2018, a total of three schools were targeted by the fraudsters resulting in a total loss of £17,500, figures showed.
However, November 2017 saw the highest total loss (£56,977) for a month despite receiving a slightly lesser total of six reports – an average loss of £9,163 per report.
The county with the highest number of reported cases was Kent with eight schools targeted in the past six months, according to the figures.
Of the 48 reported cases, 12 – 25 per cent – schools reported a loss totalling £145,124, the City of London Police confirmed.