In March 2021, a company from outside of the UK who specialises in the sale of solar panels reported a large shipment missing in Kent. The goods, which are said to have been purchased by a company in the UK, were not delivered to their intended destination. Instead it is alleged the lorries containing the solar panels were redirected to an industrial unit in Ashford and have since disappeared without being paid for.
Detectives from the Volume Fraud Team at Kent Police are investigating the circumstances and, as part of their ongoing enquiries, two men were arrested at a business unit in Henwood, Ashford, on Wednesday 17 March 2021.
A 50-year-old man from Essex and a 23-year-old man from Havering were detained on suspicion of conspiracy to steal. They have since been released on police bail until Thursday 15 April 2021.
Detective Sergeant Marc Cananur said: ‘We are still investigating the circumstances of this incident but it would be a good time to remind businesses about distribution fraud. This is where scammers can pose as being from a well-known company or business to ensure their order for a product looks authentic. This means that companies, often from overseas, believe they are delivering goods to legitimate customers who intend to pay within 30 days following an invoice, something which is common practice within the industry. Instead the goods get redirected and are never paid for, leaving unsuspecting businesses severely out of pocket.
‘This doesn’t just happen to overseas businesses, anyone can become the victim of a scam so always check the delivery address, phone number and email domain name is genuine if someone has placed an order with you. Look the company up online and ask for upfront payment, especially on first-time orders.’