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The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit (DCPCU) has
dismantled what is believed to be one of the UK’s biggest
counterfeit cheque crime groups following a major operation in
Yorkshire and Scotland.
Last Wednesday and Thursday morning (Oct 17) in excess of 60
officers from the DCPCU, City of London Police and West Yorkshire
Police arrested five men and two women.
Around 100 cheque books were seized, each containing up to 50
cheques, with the potential to facilitate in excess of £5million
worth of fraud.
Numerous printers and printing materials that could be used to
forge cheques, and a sizeable quantity of crack cocaine and heroin,
were also found during searches of 22 addresses and a
At the same time a separate team was out with Dumfries and
Galloway, and Strathclyde forces executing warrants at five
properties and making a number of seizures.
Detectives have been investigating a counterfeiting network with
links to Zimbabwe for months, and suspect they could have been
making up to £50,000 a week using counterfeit cheques, potentially
netting up to £10 million in total.
Cheque usage has gone down in recent years but there are still
over 2.7 million transactions a day. And although the most recent
figures show that cheque fraud is rising, more than 90% of all
fraudulent cheques are detected as they go through the cheque
Organised crime gangs continue to steal customer cheques to use
as templates, and are also targeting company cheque
But they are now purchasing higher quality printers, paper and
ink from the internet to produce counterfeit cheques that are much
more difficult to detect.
This, combined with many people no longer being familiar with
cheque security is creating increasingly fertile ground for
The DCPCU, which is a specialist police unit sponsored by the
banks to investigate serious and organised payment fraud, is
working with the industry to stamp out organised card and cheque
fraud across the UK.
The unit comprises officers from the City of London and
Metropolitan police forces working alongside bank investigators and
case support staff.
The Head of DCPCU, DCI Dave Carter, said:
“A decline in counterfeit cheque fraud ironically left a
chink in the door, with criminals now combining old techniques with
the specialist purchasing powers of the internet to cash-in on a
general lack of public awareness of cheque security.
“These arrests send out a strong message across the UK to
both members of the public and criminals. The DCPCU are alive to
the threat of counterfeit cheques, take it seriously, and will
travel far and wide in pursuit of those we believe are
The Commissioner of the City of London Police, Adrian Leppard,
“This operation emphasises the importance of UK police
forces coming together to tackle fraud and fight the common enemy
that is organised crime. It also shows how private sector –
policing partnerships continue to make a significant contribution
to the national police response to economic crime.
“Looking forwards these established alliances and privately
funded specialist police units will become key components in the
new National Crime Agency’s Economic Crime Command, which becomes
fully operational in autumn 2013."
The five men, three aged 32, and one 33 and 30, and the two
women, 31 and 29 were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to
defraud. They were questioned in West Yorkshire police stations and
later released on bail.