Avoiding crime and fraud in international trade

Understand common types of fraud in international trade


Fraudsters may try to steal your goods, business identity or tap into your business to launder money. Criminals may approach you through letters, a phone call, or via email. Increasingly, cyber-crime is a principal priority risk for UK residents and businesses. Typical scams include investment offers or opportunities to acquire new customers who you supply but never receive payment from.

'Phishing', or rogue emails asking for your business banking details, are a common way to steal money. Read more about how to safeguard your IT against fraud.

You can anonymously report fraud by phoning Crimestoppers on Tel 0800 555 111.

Action Fraud is a central point of contact to call and get help if you have been a victim of fraud. Report a fraud online.

Money laundering and terrorist financing

  • Money laundering is the process by which funds derived from unlawful conduct are given apparent legitimacy - in essence cleaning the criminal proceeds.
  • Terrorist financing is the process by which funds are gathered and used for terrorist activity.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), other law enforcement agencies, regulators and professional bodies work together to combat money laundering. Certain sectors, such as financial services, money service businesses, accountancy, legal, estate agencies, trust and company service providers, high value dealers and casinos have various legal obligations to consider.

Read about POCA and obligations you may have under the law.

VAT fraud

Missing Trader Intra-Community fraud, or carousel fraud, costs the UK several billion annually. VAT concessions on carbon allowances have also led to VAT fraud. While the frauds are carried out by organised gangs, businesses must take care to keep their VAT invoices, records and VAT numbers in order. It's important to keep complete records on file, in order to avoid becoming liable for investigation by HMRC.

If you suspect you're the victim of fraud, you should take steps to protect yourself. Read more about vetting business partners.

Fraudsters may also attempt to steal your business identity so you should consider how to protect your business identity against fraud.

  • Action Fraud Helpline
    0300 123 2040