In a round-robin email, suppliers are being urged to be on the look out for an ordering scam that's much more plausible than the usual credit card trickery.
A fraudster - or group of fraudsters – is using genuine bike shop details to generate an order number and then says the bikes will be picked up in person.
The scam came to light when one supplier ran out of stock of a certain bike, called the bike shop that had apparently raised the order only to find the bike shop knew nothing of the order.
Other suppliers have automated advice notes sent to dealers before orders are dispatched and this has prevented a number of fraudulent orders. "The scammer called three times with very plausible information and a change to the date for dispatch," said one supplier.
Another said: "We received a call from a shop saying that they were desperate for a bike and that they would collect it. It was not a local shop. We asked for an order number; they said they would phone back (they didn't). We checked with the shop and they hadn't ordered the bike."
A supplier of high-end MTBs said:
"Very late yesterday we received an order from one of our customers for a number of bikes. Whoever placed this order knows who we are and what we sell. This person posed as our customer and gave the name of one of our contacts at this shop. He ordered six bikes to leave our premises today. This issue only came to light as one of the bikes on the order was not in stock. We then contacted our real customer who then told us that they had not ordered any bikes this week. The imposter gave us their customer number and an order number which has been entered on our system."
Some suppliers have asked their courier companies to be vigilant, also:
"Please can you put an immediate alert out to all your depots stating that if one of our customers calls stating that there is any type of problem delivering to their normal address that they should contact us immediately."
This supplier was able to spot the scam but was worried about how it nearly worked:
"We were lucky enough this time to stop this delivery falling into the wrong hands, but we might not catch it next time if this continues to be an issue in our industry."