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“Gang of fraudsters” buying goods with stolen cheques- Caribbean Chemicals (Guyana) Limited

Director of Caribbean Chemicals (Guyana) Limited, Mrs. Francesca Pires and Manager of the company, Martin Lopez briefing the media at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Board Room.

Caribbean Chemicals (Guyana) Limited on Friday sounded alarm bells about a “gang of fraudsters” after the company sold GUY$2.2 million worth of fertilizer to someone using a bogus cheque.

Director of Caribbean Chemicals, Francesca Pires declined to name the company whose cheque book was stolen in November 2013 but said the cheques are supposed to be drawn on an account at Demerara Bank Limited.

Deputy Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that the purchaser tendered a cheque in the name of Strategic Action Security Limited on January 6,2014 and a report was made to the Brickdam Police Station on February 6. No one has been arrested.

Caribbean Chemicals urged the business community to make contact with it so that the relevant information could be shared. “We understand that our company is not the only company to have fallen victim to this scam and we would like to alert the business community to be on their guard,” said Pires.

The scam broke when the truck driver contacted Caribbean Chemicals for a number of the purchaser because he was not paid for transporting the fertilizer.

Pires attributed the fraud to a breakdown in internal procedures especially when dealing with first-time customers. At least one senior company official has been cited for the lapse but Pires declined to say what disciplinary action would be taken. She said that employee, who has a number of years of experience, did not ask the purchaser for a form of identification.

The Caribbean Chemical (Guyana) Limited official said there was no evidence of collusion between staff members and those who presented the cheque and uplifted the fertilizer. “It was in our view a lot of complacency,” said Pires. “This should have never ever happened because we have very strict rules about accepting payments especially from a first time customer,” she added.

She said video surveillance footage has been handed over to police investigators and a number of persons could soon be placed on an identification parade.

A total of 350 bags of fertilizer – 250 bags of 15:15:15 mixed fertilizer and 100 bags of urea- were purchased using the invalid and stolen cheques.

Officials explained that except for the signatures on the cheque, the other information was typewritten and should have raised a “red flag” by employees who transacted the business.

In future, the officials said, all orders and cheques should be accompanied by vouchers from the intended buyer.