Scammers tried to steal work from UK engineer by trading under its name and submitting fake bids
Atkins is the latest in a string of UK firms to admit to being hit by Chinese fraudsters submitting fake bids in their names.
It is understood that a company pretending to be Atkins tried to steal work in China from the engineering firm.
A source close to Atkins said: “The other firm tried to get some jobs from Atkins. They bid for work. They had set up a firm called Atkins.”
The fraud was spotted several months ago and was shut down.
An Atkins spokesperson said: “We discovered an attempt to trade on Atkins’ reputation in China and we took prompt and appropriate action. There has been no impact on our business.”
The revelation follows news last week in Building that Chinese fraudsters had also bid for work as UK architect Broadway Malyan. The practice said it was taking legal advice on the issue.
Aedas also said it had been targeted by Chinese imposters who bid for projects in its name with the Chinese government around a year ago.
David Roberts, chief executive of Aedas in Asia, said that the problem had also appeared in eastern Europe at around the same time. “A website was set up with our name and one or two of our projects on it,” says Roberts. “It disappeared very quickly. It was a very bad site.”
Atkins has four offices in mainland China and one in Hong Kong and employs almost 1,000 staff in the region. Its turnover in China leapt 39% to £64m in the year to 31 March 2010.
It is not known if the fraudsters targeting Atkins were genuine engineers looking to win work, or scammers set to disappear after securing an initial payment.
The news comes as Atkins revealed it had shed over 900 staff in the year to 30 September.
Commenting on interim results, chief executive Keith Clarke said: “I don’t think we have seen the bottom to staff reductions.”
In the half year to 30 September, Atkins posted pre-tax profit of £38.7m, an 11% drop year on year. Revenue declined to £664.2m, from £701.2m.