Police launch major fraud investigation

Criminals target gadget buyers with false adverts in major magazines and newspapers
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Criminals target gadget buyers with false adverts in major magazines and newspapers

A major police investigation has been launched after a bogus company claiming to sell high value consumer electronics at discount prices placed adverts in several major consumer magazines and national newspapers.

Digital Arts, Stuff, The Independent, The Metro and The Belfast Telegraph were among the publications targeted by the company, according to MacWorld, which was itself one of those affected.

Head of the Economic Crime Directorate, detective chief superintendent Steve Head warned customers "not to respond to bogus adverts by a company claiming to sell high value electrical goods at reduced prices".

The fraudsters used a number of names – some of belonging to genuine companies – including Arash Ltd, The Gadget Company, Gadget Limited, Office Bits Warehouse, Office Supplies Cabin and Office Brands Megastore.

According to the magazine, when customers attempted to place an order with one of the bogus companies, they were informed the credit card machine was broken and to wire transfer the money to an account.

Police have also warned of a second part to the scam, which involves a false card being posted by a company claiming to be called Parcel Express UK, which asks the customer to ring a number and pay a customer fee via a credit or debit card. The fraudsters then used these details illegally.

Detective chief superintendent Head confirmed the police had launched a major investigation into the matter. "The City of London Police Economic Crime Directorate is working closely with Westminster Trading Standards Office and the Metropolitan Police to identify those responsible for this fraud.

"We are at an early stage, however it is evident victims have been duped by bogus advertisements for reduced price goods, placed in trusted newspapers and national magazines. Our advice to people is this: only ever part with your financial details to a known and trusted company.

"Likewise if an approach for delivery of a parcel is unexpected or unsolicited, be wary, question the reasons why and take time out to consider the validity of the request. Trading Standards or Consumer Direct can offer advice."