has learned of a new wave of fraudulent orders being placed in the name of legitimate wholesalers and retailers.
The perpetrator's MO is to contact the supplier by telephone to establish contact and credibility, then email an order confirmation across and, crucially, arrange to collect it rather than have it delivered - thus driving away with stock that is unpaid for and cannot be traced.
Stax Trade Centres is one company whose name has been used in this way in recent weeks, and, says joint md David Hibbert, this isn't an unprepared chancer - it is a sophisticated operation: "This is identity theft," he said. "This person is purporting to be a buyer from Stax and he's placing orders on our behalf. He's hired a van in Stax's name, he's registered a van in Stax's name and he's used legitimate carriers in our name and paid with forged cheques.
"This has been happening for six weeks or so now and he's got away with £60-70k worth of gear!"
Liverpool-based retailer Taskers has also had a fraudulent order placed using its name. However, md John Tasker told DIY Week
that the attempt was foiled. "An attempt was made to obtain goods by deception but this was foiled. A bogus purchase order was sent to a supplier with instructions to ship to our address. A caller then contacted the supplier and advised that they had been instructed to collect the goods on our behalf. A sting was set up and the police were waiting. However, they failed to apprehend and prosecute, despite the person calling to collect the goods."
Both companies have contacted all suppliers to warn them of the scam and urge them to get in contact via a landline regarding any orders that seem out of the ordinary. This is especially true of orders placed using a gmail address or which only give a mobile contact number, said Mr Hibbert and particularly if they arrange to pick the orders up - "something Stax doesn't do."
If you've been the subject of a similar scam contact us at email@example.com or on 020 8651 7056.