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Police probe £2m plant thefts

 

By Mike Travers

 

Police have warned Scotland’s plant hirers to carry out “thorough due diligence” on customers to help tackle a new surge in equipment theft.

police-scotland-grabOfficers in Police Scotland’s Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit have been dealing with a series of incidents involving bogus companies acquiring plant, vehicles and fuel. A spokesman told Scottish Plant: “The financial losses suffered to hire companies so far are in the region of £2m. There have been some recoveries of equipment but the majority remains outstanding.”

Their enquiries have established that the identities used for directors and company appointments have been stolen, with the ‘real’ people having no connection with or knowledge of the fraudsters. Bank details provided for payment are fabricated while any payments to set up a company with Companies House are made using compromised bank accounts.

The crooks provide addresses that are “virtual offices” with mailboxes/storage units. They will often set up a temporary site office as a delivery address then vanish once they have their hands on equipment or goods.

Recovered...but most of it isn't.

Recovered…but most of it isn’t.

“The hire companies who have been victims of this type of crime have made numerous enquiries and attempts to contact the suspect companies following the delivery of equipment, to no avail,” said the police spokesman.

“In an effort to minimise this type of fraud plant hire companies are requested to implement a thorough due diligence process especially in respect of new customers.”

♦ In May this year Police Scotland and industry representatives set up Construction Watch following a huge rise in thefts from building sites in the north. See story here…

 

Prevention

Arrange meetings at a registered address to have new customer agreements signed in person prior to delivery

Get proof of identity when dealing with new clients and their employees

Send a letter to the director/ named person’s home address (if available) to confirm they are linked to the company seeking credit

Consider sending a minimal amount (£0.01 or similar with security code) to the bank account provided and ask the customer to provide the security code

Be wary of last-minute changes for delivery

Ask for identification from the persons receiving equipment

Limit the number of hires for new customers who have made no payment for equipment

Consider the use of a security deposit from the customer, which can be returned at an agreed time and wait until the deposit clears before supplying any equipment

 

 

 

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Article posted 17/10/2016