North Walsham butcher’s warning over meat scam
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A butcher has backed a call from Trading Standards urging fellow businessmen to be on their guard after he was targeted by suspected fraudsters.
Steve Covell, manager of Papworth butchers in North Walsham, believes he was contacted by swindlers using an advance payment scam, where goods are purchased using stolen cheques or credit cards.
This in turn means suppliers can lose out if payment is cancelled after goods have been handed over.
On Monday Mr Covell received a call from a customer wanting to place an order for £4,000 worth of meat, pay for it over the phone with a credit card and collect it via a courier.
He said: 'They were saying they had been let down by their butcher and they were looking to place an order for collection for a lot of steak; fillet, rump, sirloin ribeye, and they were looking for 40 kilos of each.
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'They were talking about £4,000 worth retail value. As soon as they started talking these figures I knew really straight away, this has to be a bit sus.
'I had read about this in one of the meat magazines a couple of months ago. The courier, credit card and over the phone, that was just the classic symptoms of what I have read about.'
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He quickly alerted Trading Standards and is now urging fellow traders to be on their guard.
And his call comes after Norfolk Trading Standards issued a similar warning to businesses two weeks ago, after being informed by another local meat supplier of the suspected scam.
On that occasion the supplier became suspicious due to the scale of the order and the fact the customer - based in London - was so far afield.
The caller also said they had been let down by a regular trader.
Officers said businesses and their staff should be very wary of any large or complicated orders, and urged traders to sign up to their scam alert system.
Dan Roper, county council cabinet member with responsibility for Trading Standards, said: 'Our trading standards team is committed to supporting businesses and consumers by alerting them to scams at the earliest opportunity.'
Businesses can report any suspicious purchases or orders by calling 0344 8008020 or emailing email@example.com. Visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/businessscams to sign up for scam alerts.