Conmen are cheating the channel out of thousands of pounds by placing multiple orders for IT equipment and having it delivered to false addresses.
According to figures produced by the Credit Industry Fraud Avoidance System, cases of false identity fraud are increasing dramatically.
The organisation reported almost 4000 cases in the first half of this year, up 334 per cent from the 1999 figure. The tricksters are engaging in a practice known as cloning.
They pretend to represent smaller companies that often don't have a customer reference number, then phone up distributors and resellers with the necessary customer details and have the goods delivered to a false address, where they disappear without trace.
It is only when the real customer receives an invoice for goods not ordered or delivered that the fraud comes to light.
One recent victim, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I was going through my invoices and I came across one for a four figure sum, for an order I know we didn't make."
After getting in touch with the supplier in question, a credit controller admitted to him that he was not the first of the firm's customers to have complained of similar invoice problems.
"I was credited immediately for the amount and the company apologised for the inconvenience caused," said the victim. "I was very happy with how the situation was handled in general, but I know this is happening to other companies."
An industry source claimed that there have been at least 10 similar incidents in the past month, and that it should act as a warning to other resellers and distributors to be extra vigilant and to tighten up their security procedures.
"This is particularly worrying because these people seem to be targeting the smaller companies who use their names and addresses when dealing with distributors, rather than a customer reference number," he said.
The smaller target companies may also not have the strict security procedures in place that their larger, more infrastructure-heavy counterparts will have, he added.
"[The fraudsters] also seem to know the exact credit limit of these companies, and the sad thing is that it would only take a couple of similar hits for that company to go under," he warned.
First published in Computer Reseller News
Today saw 14 of the UK IT channel's biggest hitters come together to determine the winners of CRN's WiC awards. But what does being a WiC judge actually involve? Doug Woodburn reports
'Smaller firms may struggle to keep up with Microsoft's innovation with Dynamics' says CEO Stuart Fenton after acquiring assets from Profile Enterprise Solutions
Pete Peterson admits the firm hasn't always been the 'easiest company to do business with'
New chief exec Aaron Painter says 'longer-term strategy' could see firm tackle the Asian market