Updated: 13 December 2017
This message is for the attention of existing and potential suppliers to the University of Otago
We want to alert you to a fraud scam that is targeting existing and potential suppliers of goods to the University of Otago, as well as other Universities and businesses in New Zealand. Please take the necessary precautions so that you are not a victim of this scam.
While the University of Otago cannot prevent this fraudulent activity we are supplying the Police with details to investigate the matter as we become aware of specific instances.
The fraud scam involves purchase orders and requests for product quotations that purport to originate from the University but are in fact fraudulent.
The scam operates in the following way: the supplier will receive an email requesting a quotation for goods. The email being used for this is a variant of email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or otagunvi.org. This email is purporting to originate from the University Procurement Office. Once the quotation has been provided, a purchase order is emailed to the supplier that bears little resemblance to an authentic University purchase order. The purchase order typically instructs delivery to an address not affiliated with the University. After shipping the item/s, the supplier never receives payment and is unable to retrieve the shipped products.
It appears that suppliers are being instructed to ship the goods to a freight forwarder/Logistics company, who are then instructed to send the goods off-shore.
Indicators of fraud:
- Incorrect domain name used to send emails and purchase orders. A valid University email address will always end in @otago.ac.nz. Hovering over the email address may reveal the originator’s email address if different from that displayed
- The delivery address is not a University address. Fraudulent addresses will typically be a domestic residence or a self-storage facility
- Poorly written email with grammatical errors
- Use of a false or unknown contact from the University. If requests for quotations or purchase orders are received from a new University contact that raises your suspicion then please email email@example.com to verify the validity of the request. Do not contact the name/number used on the email/purchase order
- Phone numbers not associated with the University
- Unusually large quantities are requested
- Rush to ship priority/overnight
What to do if you suspect fraudulent activity:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org to verify the validity of the request, (Please ensure you include any emails and documents you have received that relate to the enquiry)
- The Procurement Office will respond to your email asap to confirm the validity of the request
- Please do not attempt to call any phone numbers contained within the fraudulent emails that purport to be University numbers as they will attract a service charge. Typically these number begin with 0843 / 0844/ 0845 / 070
Should you wish to refer this matter to the NZ Police, contact Detective Sergeant Mike Cartwright of the Financial Crimes Unit and the Auckland Central Police Station. Det SGT Cartwrights’ email address is email@example.com. The relevant NZ Police File is 170112/1414.
What the University is doing:
- We contacted all our current suppliers in January to advise them of this situation and to advise them to remain vigilant.
- Liaising with affected suppliers that may be subject to this type of fraudulent activity to provide the validity of RFQ request received.
- Requesting that domain names used for fraudulent activity are closed.
- We have referred this matter to the New Zealand Police.
If you require further information please Contact a member of the University Procurement Team