The Metropolitan Police is tracking an organised crime syndicate that has so far taken more than u500,000 of IT stock from over 400 companies.
The gang has been operating for around four months using US credit card numbers and residential delivery addresses. One Chessington-based company was stung for u29,000 in one delivery.
DC Neil Stapley of Kilburn CID, who is leading the investigation, said at least 10 people were in the gang, believed to be headed up by a Nigerian 'Mr Big', who is being sought by the UK immigration department.
'We raided several of the delivery addresses given. In one house we found four different passports relating to the same person - no one is sure what his real identity is.
'We need to make an arrest soon - that should cause a knock-on effect that will give us crucial information.'
All the orders for stock have been given over the telephone and in every case a US credit card number has been used, usually a Chase Manhattan bank card. The card numbers have all been genuine which means authorisation can be obtained, but the card company will eventually stop the payment going through.
DC Stapley said: 'The drop-off points are obviously dodgy, just one look would tell you that. The problem has been that the third-party delivery firm often doesn't care as long as the goods are signed for. There's evidence that the gang is involved in the theft of hi fi and other electrical goods.'
Some of the most frequently used company names used when the gang places the orders are Tech Computer Ltd, Vertech Systems, Trade Computers, Moped Computers, Heron Computer Services and Arrow Communication and Contractors Ltd.
Among the names used by the gang members have been Andrew Jacobs, Mr Tamolyn, H Jacobson, Henry Whitaker and Patrick Pogle.
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