Agencies warned of company ‘cloning’ activity on Companies House

The FCSA has noticed some unusual activity on Companies House involving new companies being recently incorporated with very similar names to existing FCSA Accredited Members.

The FCSA became aware of this activity during routine due diligence checks on all FCSA member firms, including checks on Companies House, to protect supply chain partners and contractors.

As part of this exercise, we noticed recently that some member firms appeared to be the victim of cloning, where individuals set up a company that perhaps has one letter changed from the bona fide company or has another word attached to the name of the bona fide company.

Around ten FCSA member firms appear to be subject to cloning, and we have worked closely with those FCSA firms to both highlight the issue and ensure that they have been in contact with their agency partners. In addition, we have notified agencies and end hirers via our September newsletter, which is circulated to over 5,000 subscribers, to ensure that they are fully informed of the issue.

Agencies must remain vigilant.

As a precaution, therefore, and in line with best practice, we would recommend that should agencies receive communication/correspondence requesting information or changes to existing details, e.g. bank account details, from a contact purporting to be an FCSA member firm, that you get in touch with a known contact at the FCSA member firm to verify before taking action.

Commenting on this recently discovered cloning activity, FCSA Chief Executive Phil Pluck said:

“I can only assume that this cloning activity is designed to persuade others to think that they are dealing with a legitimate partner and that there is a financial motive underlying this activity.

“This is not just aimed at FCSA companies, and so I would advise any agency dealing with any partner company where money is transferred to agree on a clear transfer protocol with their partner and to treat with caution any approach that states that banking arrangements have been altered or bank accounts have changed and that funds should now be diverted to that account.”

“We live in a highly cynical cyber world where there are many attempts to steal money from innocent parties. Thanks to the detailed due diligence checks that we have in place at FCSA, we were able to alert FCSA members and their partners to this issue at the earliest possible moment.”

We will, of course, remain vigilant on this matter and update you should any more information come to light. However, if you come across any unusual activity relating to this matter or have any information that you can share, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our Head of Membership and Compliance, Deb Murphy.

We want to assure you that as soon as this matter was identified, swift action was taken by the FCSA to alert all member firms.

We want to commend our member firms, in particular those directly affected, for acting swiftly on the notification and coming together to support one another. Another excellent example of the FCSA and its members working together to protect the supply chain and contractors from non-compliant practices and operators.

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