Net credit card scam hits local computer supplier

A fraudulent Internet company, which allegedly has fraudulently adopted the name of a legitimate computer firm, has been using stolen credit card numbers to order hardware from Australian suppliers.

The NSW Police Fraud Unit has issued a warning about the international scam which authorities suspect is operating out of the UK via a "virtual office" in the Sydney CBD.

The non-existent company known as Micro Touch Systems Ltd has contacted vendors via the Web and telephone to order tens of thousands of dollars worth of PCs and components for delivery to an address in Sussex Street from where goods are then shipped to the UK.

The scam was made public when NSW Police contacted the legitimate company, MicroTouch Australia Pty Ltd, whose parent is the Nasdaq-listed MicroTouch Systems in the US.

MicroTouch Australia's Asia-Pacific managing director, Craig Stockdale, said police called last week wanting to know if the company had an association with the fraudulent outfit which he suspects is from the next suburb or on the other side of the world; as a result I think business has dropped its guard not realising the potential for damage and how exposed we really are on the Internet.

"We are a publicly listed company so the potential for damage is serious, not only to reputations and bottom lines but to the share price and shareholders."

Stockdale said police were alerted to the scam when a vendor received a phone call from a male with an English accent who ordered $15,000 worth of RAM using six different credit card numbers.

He said suspicions led to police being contacted. The vendor also said there was a delay on the phone during the conversation indicating the caller was outside Australia, Stockdale said.

"Resellers need to employ proper checks on purchases by asking for account numbers and ABNs; I suspect the fraudsters simply checked our Web site and saw where we were located and decided to lean on Australia," Stockdale said.

"A few suppliers could have been stung as a result of this but someone will have to pay for this oversight be it in higher credit card charges or poorer ratings for those people who had their credit cards stolen."

Stockdale didn't have a figure for damages but said "no dollar figure can account for loss of goodwill with a name and brand".

MicroTouch provides gaming equipment to Aristocrat, point-of-sale systems to Coles Myer Supermarkets and information kiosks at Target shopping centres.

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