The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) and City of London Police (COLP) have dismantled what is believed to be one of the UK’s biggest counterfeit cheque crime groups.
Sixty officers from the DCPCU, COLP and West Yorkshire Police arrested five men and two women last week. Around 100 cheque books were seized, each containing up to 50 cheques, with the potential to facilitate in excess of £5million worth of fraud.
Numerous printers and printing materials that could be used to forge cheques, and a sizeable quantity of drugs, were also found during searches of the 22 addresses.
Detectives investigating suspected the gang could have been making up to £50,000 a week using counterfeit cheques, potentially netting up to £10 million in total.
Cheque usage has gone down in recent years but there are still over 2.7 million transactions a day. Although the most recent figures show that cheque fraud is rising, more than 90% of all fraudulent cheques are detected as they go through the cheque clearing process.
Organised crime gangs continue to steal customer cheques to use as templates, and are also targeting company cheque books. But they are now purchasing higher quality printers, paper and ink from the internet to produce counterfeit cheques that are much more difficult to detect.
The Head of DCPCU, DCI Dave Carter, said: “A decline in counterfeit cheque fraud ironically left a chink in the door, with criminals now combining old techniques with the specialist purchasing powers of the internet to cash-in on a general lack of public awareness of cheque security.
“These arrests send out a strong message across the UK to both members of the public and criminals. The DCPCU are alive to the threat of counterfeit cheques, take it seriously, and will travel far and wide in pursuit of those we believe are responsible.”
Read more about the arrest on the City Of London Police website.
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