At last a European approach to fraudulent invoices

13 March 2019

At last a European approach to fraudulent invoices

Foto: CC0

In 2013 the European Parliament adopted by an overwhelming majority a report by SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong, in which he called for a European approach to fraudulent invoices. Today his recommendations were finally embodied in legislation. Explaining the new law, De Jong said: “In the Netherlands the Fraud Help Desk works well. It's mostly small businesses that become the victims of false invoices and similar kinds of fraud. If, however, the invoices are sent from outside the country, it's very difficult for the Fraud Help Desk. That's why the organisation for small and medium-sized enterprises, MKB-NL has long been urging the creation of a network of help desks throughout the EU. The directive voted on today will mean that such a network is at last in prospect.”

Member states will have two years to pass into law the measures to put an end to the sending of fraudulent invoices. “Via national contact points member states will be able to inform each other of new scams. In addition, every member state must have a central point for victims of this kind of fraud, which will work on prevention as well as offering help to these victims, supplying, amongst other things, examples of fraudulent invoices. This will enable people to look into whether an invoice which appears strange is known to be of a kind which is fraudulent.”

This concerns an extremely underestimate form of crime. “At the Fraud Help Desk they sometimes get calls from small business owners who are literally in tears and who haven't understood that they have fallen into a trap laid by criminals, “ says De Jong. “It's during busy periods, when the admin is having to handle numerous invoices at the same time, that it can be hard for a small firm to distinguish true invoices from false. Sometimes from shame they don't even make a complaint. But even if they do, it often doesn't lead to a prosecution, because each individual false invoice will involve small sums, but if you tot them all up you get a different picture. In 2018 it was shown that fully a quarter of Dutch small firms had been billed fraudulently. Due to this directive this matter will at last get the attention it deserves.”

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