Defective parts scammers jailed

Last week police in London broke up what is believed to be a global network of criminals who scammed at least £12 from Cisco, one of the leading technology companies in the world.

The scheme involved fraudulent claims for defective parts, some of them worth as much as £100,000 each.  Equipment and parts still under warranty, including networking technology, servers and data storage, were reported as defective under the company’s service warranty programme, and replacements were then sold to unsuspecting customers as new merchandise.

The police became involved after Cisco’s internal auditors found a series of suspicious claims that called for replacement parts to be shipped to a number of rented warehouses scattered around London, Manchester and Nottingham.

Apparently, members of the criminal group got daily instructions via e-mail so they could be on hand minutes after delivery to pick up the merchandise and reroute it to ‘front’ companies in England, Germany and the U.S.  In the U.K. at least one of the resale companies was Xtop Systems in Manchester, where the small staff of local employees was unaware of the criminal activity.

Following a widespread investigation, last week detectives arrested three men and one woman in London and Basingstoke.  All were in their early thirties, and all were Chinese nationals in the country on student visas.  ‘Gang’ members ordered merchandise under phony names like William Shakespeare and Thomas Hardy.  Investigators believe that the mastermind behind the scam is based in China; another suspect who escaped the arrest fled to Beijing. The four who were arrested have been released on bail.