Fraudsters are registering legitimate-sounding domain names to con companies

24 July 2018

Domains are made to look like they belong to UK university email addresses


Action Fraud has issued a warning that UK and European supply companies are increasingly falling victim to European distribution fraud.

This type of fraud happens when a company from overseas (usually from Europe) delivers products to the UK but isn’t paid for the goods or the cost of shipping.
Fraudsters are registering domains that are like genuine university domains such as, and These domains are used to contact suppliers and order high value goods such as IT equipment and pharmaceutical chemicals in the university’s name. 

Suppliers will receive an email claiming to be from a university, requesting a quotation for goods on extended payment terms. Once the quotation has been provided, a purchase order is emailed to the supplier which is like a real university purchase order. The purchase order typically instructs delivery to an address, which may or may not be affiliated with the university. The items are then received by the criminals before being moved on and no payment is received by the supplier.

Fraudsters imitating one university’s address lead to a total victim loss of over £350,000.

Protect your business against European distribution fraud:

  1. Ensure that you verify and corroborate all order requests from new customers. Use telephone numbers or email addresses found on the retailer’s website – do not use the details given on the suspicious email for verification purposes.
  2. If the order request is from a new contact at an organisation that’s an existing customer, verify the request through an established contact to make sure it is legitimate.
  3. Check any documents for poor spelling and grammar – this is often a sign that fraudsters are at work.

If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber-crime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.



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