The Metropolitan Police have arrested three people in connection with a huge fraud - with CHS/Merisel allegedly losing over #250,000 - five weeks after PC Dealer revealed that police were tracking the gang.
Those arrested are believed to be part of a group of Nigerian fraudsters who tried similar scams earlier this year (PC Dealer, 16 October).
Other victims of the latest fraud included Frontline, which sources said lost #30,000 of hardware, and Northamber, which is alleged to have delivered a small number of PCs to bogus addresses. CHS/Merisel sales and marketing director Jan Lawford and UK managing director Garry Boon refused to comment on their firm's alleged loss.
The police have arrested most of the gang but are continuing their inquiries, according to Frontline managing director Graeme Watt. 'The gang is moving around quickly, using credit cards,' he said.
Frontline sales director Paul Cook warned PC Dealer readers not to be caught out by the scam. 'It would be a good thing to get the message across that this can happen at our customers too,' he said. 'The fraudsters are using a number of accounts at a number of companies to get PC kit.'
Cook said that the surnames and companies used by the con men pointed to a Nigerian gang. 'We spent some time helping to catch them.'
On Thursday last week, the Metropolitan Police staged a series of dummy deliveries to an address they believed was being used as a storage point.
A number of people were detained as a result, including the person who arrived to collect the goods.
According to witnesses, a steady stream of vans turned up at the address to load and unload computer equipment.
DC Neil Stapely of Kilburn CID said: 'We found a number of addresses at the storage facility and when we followed them up we were able to make more arrests. On the face of it, these people looked like they had minor involvement, but we now think that at least one of them may be a middle-ranking member of the organisation.'
The suspects were released on police bail and so far no charges have been brought.
Following PC Dealer's involvement in the investigation, a number of businesses contacted the police to say they had been targeted by the fraudsters.
This generated more evidence and information which enabled the police to close in on the gang and make a number of arrests.
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