The channel is being urged to be on its guard against a spiralling form of identity fraud where criminals use bogus accounts to con resellers out of thousands of pounds worth of kit.
Fraudsters are stealing a genuine accountancy firm's identity to legitimise the accounts of fake companies. However, criminals are bypassing distributors and going straight to the 'softer' targets: resellers.
"This is a problem that is increasing. We have seen activity ramping up in 2005," said Alan Norton, head of intelligence at credit reference firm Graydon.
"Distributors are wise to these tricks and have enough people to check credit applications, but resellers are prime targets that often don't have the time and resources to check every single transaction."
One accountant, which has been affected by the scam, but asked to remain anonymous, said: "Because we were a small firm, we were an ideal target for these fraudsters. Resellers should be careful who they deal with and not always take things at face value."
David Reynolds, chief executive of the Independent Association of Accountants Information Technology Consultants, which pairs accountants with VARs in the SME space, said: "If an accountant produces interim or management accounts for a client it will be at their request. So in theory, if a business is using accounts to justify a purchase or line of credit, they should have no problem with the reseller running checks. Resellers must take as many steps as necessary to protect their interests."
However, Mike Lawrence, managing director of reseller Bentpenny, said smaller resellers are in a difficult position.
"Unless you have somebody doing fraud prevention all day, every day and don?t take on new clients, you are going to get hit every now and again. There is no universal panacea to solve this problem. You can either do nothing and take some hits, or you bite the bullet and hire somebody to monitor every transaction," he said.
"If you cannot afford to hire someone or take the hit then you should only deal with customers you can verify immediately. Your business won't make headlines in the Financial Times, but it will still be here next year."
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