Fraudsters have made off with thousands of pounds worth of catering kit after targeting catering equipment hire companies in the London area, it has emerged.
The Event Hire Association confirmed that at least one of its members had been caught out by the scammers and is now warning other catering equipment hirers in the capital to be on their guard.
One company that was recently duped lost a quantity of china, glass, cutlery, chairs and tables with a replacement value of more than £7,000.
The scammers operate by phoning through orders and then tricking drivers into leaving equipment with a representative outside the venue.
In this example an order was made on Wednesday for a Friday delivery to an address in the NW10 area.
A woman who gave her name as Sarah Collins later called to confirm and pay for the goods, which she did using credit card details in that name.
Ms Collins then went on to request that the driver call one hour before delivery, however when this was attempted the call wasn’t answered.
Nonetheless the driver duly arrived on time to deliver the order and was met by a man who gave his name as James Morgan.
He is described as being a white male aged 25-30 with fair reddish hair, about 5’ 6” and slightly overweight. He told the driver that he was working for Sarah Collins but she had been delayed by 20 minutes or so, and the battery was flat on her mobile phone.
Mr Morgan invited the driver to unload the order and leave it with him, which he duly helped them do at which time it was observed he knew how to handle the equipment.
It has since been discovered that within 10 minutes of the delivery driver leaving that a white transit van arrived, collected all the equipment and left. The items have not been seen since and the credit card used to confirm the hire was later found to be stolen.
Police have been notified and are now investigating.