A WEST Dorset businesswoman is warning others not to fall for a scam which could have cost her thousands of pounds.
And after being the subject of an attempt to get her to part with her own cash after being paid for a booking with what was either a stolen or fraudulent cheque, B&B owner Hazel Ryan says she has decided never to accept any more bookings from overseas.
Police and trading standards officers are asking traders to have nothing to do with unusual requests which involve transferring money between countries.
Dubbed “money muling” the scam relies on an innocent victim transferring their “clean” money to a third party in another country, often after having received an overpayment for a booking or for goods being sold via the internet.
Mrs Ryan, who runs the picturesque Courtyard B and B in Beaminster Square, received a booking from a man in the Ukraine for himself and his wife. A cheque arrived drawn from a French bank for vastly more than the amount to pay for the break in Beaminster.
The “guest” then contacted Mrs Ryan and said that there had been a mistake and that the cheque was not only for her charges, but also for travelling costs which should have been paid to a travel agent.
He asked Mrs Ryan to pay the money into her own bank account, take what she needed and pay the remainder, more than £2,000 to the so-called agent. Highly suspicious, Mrs Ryan did an internet search on the name and address she had been given and it came up as being connected to a scam.
PC Tim Poole of Beamin-ster Safer Neighbourhood Team said: “Treat any proposition outside usual business dealings with suspicion.
“If in doubt, leave well alone and contact Dorset Trading Standards.”