Crimewatch fraud investigation centres on man in Southend

A POLICE probe into repeated frauds which left a number of small businesses out of pocket is now centred on Southend.

North Yorkshire Police have released an image of a man they would like to speak to in connection with a series of ‘card not present’ frauds.

Police say fraudulent credit cards were used to buy large quantities of meat and beauty products over the phone from businesses in North Yorkshire in March, with the products then being delivered to an address in Southend.

The transactions would initially appear to clear but once the card holders, whose details had been stolen, became aware of the purchases, they were refunded by the credit card companies who subsequently claimed the funds back from the small businesses.

As such, the businesses were left substantially out of pocket.

The man, pictured, has become the subject of the investigation after a quick-thinking taxi driver tasked with delivering the items became suspicious and took a photo of the man who collected the haul in Southend.

North Yorkshire Police Financial Investigator, Kevin Ross, said: “This fraud has had a significant impact on these businesses who sent large quantities of premium products in good faith and have now lost thousands of pounds which they have no way of recovering.

“These fraudsters are clearly very well-organised and have used the Covid-19 situation to their benefit, claiming the virus as a reason for having the goods delivered quickly and to a pick-up driver at the side of the road.

“The taxi driver’s quick thinking initiative which has resulted in this very clear photo and could well be the difference between us finding the unscrupulous individuals behind this crime and I would urge anyone who can help identify the man to get in touch immediately.”

Contact Crimewatch on 08000 468 999, text Crimewatch on 63999, starting with ‘CRIME’ then space and your message. You can also email Crimewatch at CWR@bbc.co.uk.

The incident reference is 12200019509.

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