A “malicious” saboteur lodged 23 documents with Companies House last week claiming Olympics contractor John Reddington had gone into administration.
The ease with which the culprit was able to penetrate the business registry has raised serious concerns that other construction companies could fall victim to a similar attack.
Police are investigating the commercial sabotage after documents were placed onto the Companies House website, where businesses are obliged to file company details.
A spokesman for J Reddington told Construction News the firm was alerted to the “very deliberate hoax” by a credit ratings agency early on Friday, after 23 fake documents were posted, including several applying to dormant enterprises. One document said PwC had been appointed as administrators.
After taking legal advice, the construction company reported the incident to the police.
In line with Companies House policy, J Reddington – which was listed third in the CNInsight100 top 10 concrete contractors and whose core business is groundwork and concrete frame construction – was forced to seek a court order before the notices were removed on Tuesday.
The contractor’s spokesman said: “It was very clear in a short period of time that this was fraudulent and a deliberate act - but we certainly welcome the very supportive response of all our stakeholders.
“There is a general concern however at how easily all this could be done.”
A spokesman for Companies House, which is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), said the organisation carries out basic checks, but said it accepts information “in good faith”.
He said: “The fact that the information has been placed on the public record should not be taken to indicate that Companies House has verified or validated it in any way.”
Asked whether there had been any other similar incidents, the company initially said it did not know.
A spokesman then said: “The confidential nature of these complaints mean that specific details of any complaint are between the people who make the complaint and our fraud department.”
A spokesman for PwC said the accountancy firm had written to J Reddington to confirm they were not acting as an administrator.
J Reddington said “all possible steps will be taken to identify and prosecute the culprits”.