Businesses in the borough are being warned by police to be on the alert if a customer requests to pay for goods by cheque following a huge increase in counterfeits.
Police say counterfeit cheque crime has risen by 84% in recent months and a new scam doing the rounds could leave local business owners considerably out of pocket
Businesses falling for the scam have received cheques from a customer for a higher value than the amount expected for the goods sold to them.
The sender has then been quick to request that the owner of the business refund the difference by bank transfer or a money transfer service.
Once the “refund” has been transferred, the business owner has attempted to cash the cheque only to discover it’s fraudulent and no funds are ever transferred to their account.
A spokesman for the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau said: “The average amount requested to be refunded is £1,818. The highest amount recorded was over £80,000.
“The suspects have used pressure tactics to persuade victims to refund the amounts immediately prior to the cheques clearing.”
Police are warning people to be cautious of cheque payments where the amount is higher than expected.
The spokesman added: “Refuse to provide the refund until the correct balance is received or wait until the cheque has cleared before refunding the difference.
“Always contact the bank on a trusted number found on their website or correspondence that is known to be authentic to confirm whether the cheque has cleared.”
If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk