THE Metropolitan Police have launched an investigation into how Wirral Council came to be swindled out of £45,000.

In August, the authority was the target for an email scam that resulted in the cash due for a care home being diverted to a bogus account.

The loss was immediately reported to Merseyside Police and, following their advice, to the national fraud reporting hotline at Action Fraud.

Next Monday’s audit and risk management committee will be told the council has now been advised the information has been passed to the Met, who are “actively pursuing” the case.

When the con become public knowledge in October, though a Freedom of Information request, council leader Phil Davies said he was "furious" mandatory security procedures appeared to have been ignored.

A report to councillors makes clear that the correct steps had not been taken, allowing the conman to pocket the funds.

But it says fraud of this nature is “very common” and, along with several local authorities, has caught out hospitals, universities, supermarkets and other major organisations.

It states that in the first half of 2012, more than £150m was lost to this type of con within the UK alone. And it points out that authorities within the Northwest, such as Salford Wigan, Rochdale, Bolton and Warrington, have fallen victim in recent years.

After the scam was reported to the town hall’s internal audit department, an investigation was undertaken to discover how it had been allowed to occur “despite the clear and robust procedures that are in place to prevent incidents like this.”

The report states: “In this instance, procedures were not followed as - having checked the email address and the fact that the previous month’s remittance was on the requesting email - it was assumed by the member of staff that the request was genuine. “

Now a document has been prepared for senior management identifying ten recommendations stressing the importance of following documented procedures in respect of changes to account details.