Fraudulent bills must be tackled at EU level

30 May 2013

Fraudulent bills must be tackled at EU level

Large numbers of businesses are plagues by fraudulent bills sent by criminals looking to extract money for sham products or services. In the Netherlands the organisation of smaller firms, MKB-Nederland, has been cooperating with the NGO ‘Steunpunt Acquisitiefraude’ (literally, ‘support point acquisition fraud’) to combat these practices. Steupoint Acquisitiefraude describes itself as a foundation which offers participants legal assistance and preventive advice on various kinds of fraud. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong explains that this service, though valuable, is limited because ‘many of these fraudulent bills are sent from outside the country. For this reason EU member states need to improve their cooperation in order to address the problem via a reporting point for each country. That’s not only important for the firms who would know whose door to knock on, as a central reporting point for each country would mean also that these could more easily share data and successful working methods.’

MKB-Nederland and Steunpunt Acquisitiefraude applaud the proposals, as Els Prins from MKB-Nederland explains: ‘This is important for all enterprises. In the Netherlands alone at least €400 million per year is lost which would be better invested in growth and job creation,’ she says. Fleur van Eck of Steunpunt Acquisitiefraude adds that ‘in the Netherlands we’re already very successful when it comes to combating these criminals, by for example offering legal assistance, especially to small businesses. We also post the names of most of the false businesses on-line. With prevention and by erecting the necessary barriers we’ve put a stop to this. However, 80% of the fraudsters operate from abroad, so it’s high time that these criminals were pursued and most importantly to bring to light how their international structures work.’

In addition to the proposal for the establishment of a centralised reporting point in each of the member states, De Jong also wants to see every country cooperating to create a public European register linked to the commercial register and other public sources of information. ‘Via this European database we can keep up to date with which sham companies and which people are involved in acquisition fraud so that they don’t get away scot free and aren’t able to go from country to country.’ De Jong’s proposals were discussed today in the Internal Market Committee of the European Parliament. De Jong is the Parliament’s rapporteur on misleading marketing practices.

You are here