Published: 27/03/2011 09:30 - Updated: 25/03/2011 18:56
A business had a lucky escape from a suspected scam after
being asked to transfer almost £50,000 to a company in
Refrigeration Ltd, based at Bedford Technology Park,
Thurleigh, was initially contacted by a man called ‘John’
who said he was from A-Four General Trading LLC in Dubai
last month. He wanted to order around £5,000 of solar panels
to be delivered to the country.
The sales team sent him an invoice with the firm’s bank
details so he could pay the sum.
But earlier this month, Sean Handley, sales director at
Orion, said they received
notification from their bank – Lloyds TSB – about a cheque
paid in to the branch in the High Street, Bedford, suspected
to be fraudulent/counterfeit of £49,600.
In the meantime the company had received an email from
the same address – this time from somebody called Mike –
asking to confirm the payment ‘as soon as possible to enable
us to proceed’.
It said that due to an ‘erroneous blunder made by the
financial department’ they issued Orion’s payment with
another company’s payment – therefore resulting in the
£49,600 instead of the £4,797.
Mr Handley said: “The scariest thing about this is that
somebody actually went into our branch bank in Bedford to
pay in the cheque. We do deal with companies in Dubai so had
no reason to suspect the order initially and so sent them
our bank details.
“But what happens is that they then say they have
overpaid you and ask you to transfer the money back to their
account. While it shows on your account, it hasn’t actually
cleared, so if you transfer the money then you’ll be out of
pocket.” Mr Handley said he contacted the named ‘drawer’ of
the cheque – an independent retailing and distribution
company CJ Lang & Son Ltd, based in Dundee, and was told
that somebody had stolen their cheque book a number of years
He added: “When I spoke to them they said they had
received a few calls about it. Luckily, Lloyds Bank is on
the ball with this sort of thing and flagged it up before it
got any further.” A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police said
that a statement would be taken from Mr Handley and his
colleague next month but it was likely the case would be
referred to a police force in Scotland.
A spokesman for C J Lang & Son Ltd said: “We do not have
a trading relationship with Orion
nor have we issued any cheques to them.
“The cheque which Orion
received is undoubtedly a forgery. We are grateful to
Orion for making us aware
of this attempted fraud and we have advised our bankers
A spokesman for Lloyds said: “We take fraud extremely
seriously. We have a range of measures in place to help
detect and prevent instances of fraud, but we also urge our
customers to remain vigilant to suspicious activity relating
to their businesses.” We could find no record of A-Four
General Trading LLC in Dubai.