Conmen are reproducing a stolen building society cheque and targeting the channel in an ongoing campaign of fraud which has already stung at least four UK dealerships.
Saffron Walden-based reseller 2U Computers was approached by a man calling himself Neil Williams, who claimed to be setting up a small business in North London. He arranged to purchase hardware to the value of nearly z3,000 with a Cheltenham and Gloucester investment account cheque.
But it was found to be a forgery of a blank cheque stolen from the building society's Weston Super Mare branch in 1989.
According to police, this particular cheque or a copy of it has been used by conmen 46 times in the past nine years.
Keith Higgs, who owns 2U Computers, contacted PC Dealer to warn the channel to beware of customers attempting to buy goods using building society cheques.
He said: 'Most people think that this is cleared funds and therefore as good as cash. But if it's stolen or fraudulent it will not be honoured. Always call whoever issued the cheque before handing over the goods.'
A representative of the building society Cheltenham and Gloucester confirmed that at least three other resellers had fallen victim to the same cheque which had been reproduced using a sophisticated printing process. She also said that each of the dealers lost between z3,000 and z10,000 worth of equipment.
Investigating officer WPC Natalie Thomson said the conmen usually arranged transactions for a Friday evening because resellers would not be able to immediately contact the building society in order to verify payment.
Over the years, resellers have fallen prey to a number of swindles as thieves are desperate to get their hands on IT equipment.
In February, there was an elaborate fraud involving three dealerships, a string of finance firms and more than z100,000 of Toshiba laptops.
The matter is still being investigated by the Serious Fraud Squad and Customs & Excise (PC Dealer, 11 February).
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