Fraud alert: scammers targeting bike distributors

BikeBiz receives reports from Saddleback and Dawes Cycles of fake bike orders totalling over £50k; UPDATE: Falcon also targeted
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This morning BikeBiz has received reports of fraudsters targeting bike distribution firms for high value hauls of bikes.

Separately Saddleback and Dawes Cycles have passed on details of scammers attempting to get their hands on a combined haul of around £55,000 worth of bikes.

Both firms received large fake orders from well established bike shops.The fake scammers then requested to pick the bike orders up by courier, rather than have them delivered to the shop, alerting the suspicions of both distribution firms.

In Dawes Cycles' case telesales staff member Sarah Williams received a £25k bike order from a well established shop in South Wales, and was given the name of an employee in the shop and an order number. Ten minutes later the scammer called back to say he had a courier in the area the next day and asked if he could he collect the bikes. He left a mobile number with the firm as he was leaving the shop. As this wasn't the way the shop in question usually conducted business Williams called the shop, which confirmed no such order had been placed.

Saddleback had a very similar experience, with a scammer placing an order for around £30k worth of bikes (18 in total) and requesting to collect the bikes via courier rather than have them delivered to the shop, claiming the shop warehouse was flooded as explanation. Saddleback sales staff member Chris Field was suspicious of the order and contacted the shop, which again confirmed that it had placed no such order.

UPDATE: Falcon Cycles has confirmed they have also been targeted by the scam. Yesterday (Tuesday June 7th) a phone call was received by the firm from a scammer pretending to be a large account. The caller gave the shop owner's name, but Falcon's telesales staff member didn't recognise the voice and called the shop straight back after the call ended. The shop confirmed it has not placed the order.

Both Saddleback and Dawes alerted police but were told that as they were not yet a victim of crime nothing could be actioned. The police did however agree to be present at the time of collection.

Saddleback's Field told BikeBiz: "The police were ready and waiting but the courier said he didn't have a different delivery address. The courier has been taken for questioning and we're waiting to hear more."

Saddleback said a similar scam had been attempted in November.

Dawes Cycles sales director Julie Hayward said: "If Sarah had not been vigilant we could have lost a high value amount of stock, so I would like to warn all other business in the trade that this is going on right now, and when they realise they have failed with Dawes they may move on to another company who may not be so lucky."

(UPDATE ON JUNE 9th): Dawes has filled us in on their attempt to catch the perpetrator yesterday afternoon. Sales director Julie Hayward picks up the story: "A local courier arrived at 4pm to collect the bikes. The courier was to deliver the bikes to Skelmersdale, Lancashire and he would be given an exact address when he was close by as he lived near – though the dealer in question is actually based in South Wales!

The courier did make a call to the man who booked him and was told he would raise the roof with Dawes for not despatching his order. The courier was totally innocent and would have also lost out. The police did arrive but I was informed nothing could be done. They made a note of the name and number of the scammer but no crime had actually taken place, so unfortunately it was another dead end. But at least BikeBiz has warned other companies in our industry."

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