Cheque fraud up
CRIMINALS HAVE found a new way to rip off businesses.They’re stealing cheque books, then passing them on to their cronies, who write cheques to purchase building materials and foodstuff.So alarming is the increase in such incidents that yesterday police called on Barbadians to guard their cheque books.“We are concerned,” said Inspector David Welch, public relations officer of the Royal Barbados Police Force, on the upsurge in this activity.Welch explained that forged cheques were something they were accustomed to, but this was a new twist with the entire book being stolen, then cheques being written from it as if the person owned the account.“These cheques are being passed to businesses like hardware stores for building materials and supermarkets,” said Welch.He said thieves were getting hold of the books by burglarising business, homes or vehicles.Need to be awareThe lawman said staff at businesses needed to be aware of this trend and be vigilant in asking for identification from people writing cheques.“When there is a certain amount being purchased, they (staff) should call management. If the cheque has a telephone number on it, they should call it to verify [the bearer is authentic],” suggested Welch.Though he could not say how many incidents of this the police had been made aware of, Welch stressed that it was a worrying situation, and urged business owners to be “extra vigilant” when accepting cheques.Check cashWelch also appealed to those transacting business, especially at night, to check the cash they were given to avoid getting counterfeit bills.“We have not seen any significant rise in counterfeit currency – actually we have seen a decrease- but people should not let their guard down because at the height of Crop-Over is one of the times of year this happens,” said Welch in a telephone interview.He said that business people should be especially wary of people tendering large notes for small-priced items. Feel qualityIf people did not have a machine to check the validity of the currency, he pointed out, they should feel the quality of the paper, and if it did not feel right one of the tests would be to put a little water on it. If the note was done on a photocopier the ink would run.Welch said that to minimise the possibility of receiving counterfeit bills, business people should make themselves aware of the features of the local currency as issued by the Central bank of Barbados.