Brands are on red alert after a number of businesses have been appraoched by con artists looking to scam thousands of pounds worth of stock in the run up to the critical Christmas period.
Young fashion brands Duck and Cover, Fly53, Luke and Merc are among those to have been targeted by the scam, in which criminals attempt to steal stock by placing fake orders.
It follows on from a wave of cases this time last year.
Last week, stock worth £7,000 was scammed from Duck and Cover under the guise of an indie in Bolton ordering to collect it the same day.
“Indies normally repeat on £1,000 to £1,500 of stock, so we should have figured out what was happening,”
said managing director Ashwin Shah. “Everyone gets a bit excited at this time of year with the repeat orders, as it is such a crucial trading period.”
He added that the con men must have had inside knowledge. “They had all the styles and numbers so it’s not just some guy trying his luck,” Ashwin said. He has reported it to the police.
Fly53, Luke and Merc have all been approached by callers placing orders of between £3,000 and £5,500 in recent weeks.
In all three cases the brands “smelled a rat”, as Luke managing director Simon Poole put it, with the caller asking to either pick up the order directly or for it to be delivered to a PO Box address.
Andy Tompsett, head of UK at Merc, said the scam could be very harmful for brands: “Brands at this time of year leap at the opportunity to sell stock at full price.”