Police are advising local businesses to be aware of a payment fraud scam which has been reported across the UK, including two cases in Cumbria.
The scam involves businesses being asked to accept payment for goods/services via cheques or banker’s drafts, usually in Euros.
The cheque/banker’s draft is banked and appears to clear through the businesses bank account. The ‘customer’ will then contact the business, cancel the order/booking, and ask for a refund – often providing a very convincing story as to why the money is needed urgently. The ‘customer’ will often ask for the refund to be made via a friend or relative with a UK bank account to speed up the process. Businesses are making the refund only to find a few days later that the cheque/banker’s draft was fraudulent. The bank issuing the original cheque/banker’s draft will then reclaim the funds from the bank account of the business.
Businesses are advised to be aware that until the original cheque/banker’s draft is physically received back by the issuing bank it may not be identified as being fraudulent. This process can take some time, especially if the issuing bank is based in another country, and the funds will often appear cleared in the business bank account.
Detective Sergeant Stephanie Goulding said: “We would like businesses across Cumbria to be aware of this scam which is in operation across the UK.
“Businesses should not feel under pressure from customers to make refunds until they are satisfied that any cheque or banker’s draft have fully cleared through the banking system. Businesses should seek advice from their own bank in relation to the clearing and authorisation procedures/times for cheques/banker’s drafts and refunds.”
Anyone who believes they may be victim of such an offence is asked to contact police on 101.