A businessman has warned Lancashire companies not to fall victim to an invoicing scam.
Diarmuid Beary, of Garstang-based Display Wizard, says the scam is now widespread, targeting multiple companies throughout the UK at the same time.
By placing orders to the value of around £2,000, but sending bank drafts for £3,000, the unscrupulous fraudsters hope to be refunded the difference before the supplier realises that the payment has not physically landed in their account.
Eventually the draft is returned unpaid on the grounds it is a fraudulent payment, leaving the supplier out of pocket.
Display Wizard, which supplies bespoke exhibition stands and other promotional material for trade shows, is just one of the companies targeted by the operation.
Mr Beary explained that several suppliers he had spoken to had received the same order via a gmx.co.uk email address.
“Companies need to be aware of this activity and be on their guard,” said Mr Beary.
“Small businesses could be hit with a major cash flow problem if this continues, especially if they owe suppliers for goods which haven’t been paid for in the event the order is sent out.
“Any payments by cheque from an unfamiliar customer should be treated with a certain level of suspicion, and no refunds should be issued unless the payment has cleared first.”
Mr Beary added: “These people are getting smarter, placing lower order values to avoid suspicion, and using UK details where in the past they have been based abroad.
“I think it’s a disgusting way to earn a living.”
Display Wizard Ltd specialises in the design, printing and distribution of display stands at exhibitions and events.