Exclusive: Academies count the cost of fraud

United Learning's accounts reveal it was the victim of a £240,000 deception

Eleanor Busby

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Hundreds of thousands of pounds has been paid into fraudulent bank accounts by multi-academy trusts.

Academy chains were tricked into sending significant sums to con artists, and thousands of pounds are yet to be recovered, accounts reveal.

United Learning paid a “valid, appropriately approved” construction invoice of £240,800 into a fraudulent bank account during 2015-16, and the chain is still working to recover £19,917.

The trust’s annual report concludes that the incident – spotted a year ago – showed that “internal controls in place were insufficient ”.

United Learning told TES that it had contacted the police, recovered “the vast majority” of the stolen money, and had “tightened” controls.

Bright Futures Educational Trust fell victim to a similar crime, paying a “valid, appropriately approved invoice for £15,999 into a fraudulent bank account”. It has introduced extra controls, recovered most of the cash and is “working to recover the remaining £5,297”.

Griffin Schools Trust also lost out to fraud, paying £10,734 to a false account, after changing a supplier’s bank details last year.

For the full details of TES' analysis of academy accounts, see the 3 February edition of TES

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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