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Police blame poor business practices for spate of crimes

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Police are warning UK IT dealers to be on their guard following the latest spate of activity by a well-organised fraud ring. The multi-million pound computer crime gang is being investigated by Derbyshire Fraud Squad after a number of dealers were ripped off recently. According to the detective leading the investigation, UK companies need to exercise quality business practices. DC Howarth, Derbyshire Fraud Squad, confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into the crimes. He asked companies to practice “good business sense” in first time dealings with any customer. Businesses should watch for differences between delivery and company addresses, and should clear cheques before deliveries and do not accept credit cards, he said. One of the latest victims was Acorn development house Eesox. Cambridge-based Eesox received an order from a company calling itself Computeq (UK) Ltd. Some 40 pieces of memory to the tune of £4,476 were ordered on 12 April. The cheque turned out to be from a stolen chequebook. Computeq UK Ltd had been dissolved in 1996 and Eesox was left out of pocket. The group was using the name and registration number of Computeq Ltd, a genuine company trading in London, to get credit ratings for Computeq UK Ltd. Helen Shepherd, Eesox business manager, warned: “They are dangerous because they seem so genuine - they even haggle over prices on the telephone, and orders come through the fax on company-headed paper,” she said. The group also targeted Paul Weller, general manager at Eesox supplier OEM Hitech. Weller told The Register: “These people seem to prey on small companies like ours. It’s extremely frustrating.” The group tried to hit OEM Hitech three times last year under three different names. Weller said the connection between the applications was the mobile phone number the gang used – which had 07000 as its prefix. According to Shepherd, company names used included: Computeq UK Ltd, Crossmedia Communications Ltd, Honor Oak Printshop, Dataselection Organisation Limited, RPMC Europe Ltd and Small Rock Microsystems. South East London delivery addresses regularly used were: 324 Brownhill Road, Catford, 52 Bromley Road, Catford, 266 Westbourne Park Road and Bittern Court, Edward Street. ®

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