‘Many small businesses don’t realise that they are the ones who bear the brunt of online credit card fraud,’ says Mr Jeffery, who speaks from firsthand experience, after his company was stung this year by online scammers and left with a hefty bill to pay.
Riverside is the largest UK stockist of popular barbeque brand Weber, the top of the range of which sells for just shy of £3,000; it was one of these high-ticket items which was purchased using stolen card details. After wading through a mountain of paperwork, the business discovered that it would be them covering the cost of the crime. The credit card company carried out a charge-back to the business to reclaim the original payment and accepted no liability themselves for allowing the fraudulent payment to have occurred in the first place.
Not long after the incident, staff at Riverside noticed that a further two orders had been placed by the same account. The company decided to process the order as normal and arrange a set-up delivery time to identify the criminal. Riverside contacted the local authorities to ask for assistance in the operation, but found that none would be offered. ‘The police didn’t want to know,’ said a team member at Riverside, ‘for two days we were passed between two police districts, The Met and Hertfordshire Police, before being told there was nothing they could do.’
It appears fraudsters will employ this tactic of arranging items to be delivered in a different police jurisdiction to the target business, aware of the fact that each police force will pass responsibility onto the other, resulting in the criminal never being pursued. Mr Jeffery is outraged that hard-working SMEs are left out of pocket while criminals walk away without any consequences.
SMEs are widely recognised as the driving force behind economic growth, but are much more likely to suffer from the financial consequences of fraud. Mr Jeffery hopes that his experience will highlight to other entrepreneurs and SMEs the importance of tightening up security and being extra vigilant online. Mr Jeffery is also urging the government and local authorities to tackle the issue, give greater support to SMEs and ensure that fraudsters are the ones who pay for their crimes.
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