A gang of fraudsters has been arrested in connection with the theft of £600,000 worth of cameras and accessories from HotCam after attempting to steal more kit from reseller CVP.
Broadcast alerted the industry earlier this month after a man who claimed to work for BBC Worldwide tried unsuccessfully to hire £50,000 worth of kit from Alias Hire.
It is believed the same gang then took 780 items including eight Sony F800s, seven Canon XF305s, lenses, tripods, batteries and monitors worth £600,000 from West London hire firm HotCam.
HotCam joint managing director Alistair Cameron told Broadcast he believed the fraud was organised by someone with broadcast industry experience.
“It seemed like an absolutely bona fide hire. They gave us BBC purchase order numbers and a BBC extension number.
“We then called the BBC Worldwide switchboard and the operator put us through to the chap.”
HotCam emailed CCTV pictures of the suspects to CVP after the reseller became suspicious of a group of men who tried to buy kit from them on Thursday last week. CVP recognised one of the individuals and called the police.
A spokesman for the Met Police said three men were arrested at CVP’s Brentford offices for theft by false representation, with two of the three also arrested for the Hotcam incident. The men have been bailed until April.
“This was not your average attempted fraud,” added CVP chief executive Phil Baxter.
“We have been contacted by police in the US who saw our Twitter feed [about the fraud] and said they think it could be connected to a spate of frauds in US, where $2m of kit has been taken.”
“We need to be more of community and let people know what is going on. If something looks too good to be true, or is marginally lower in price, people need to realise it could be stolen,” Baxter warned.
No kit has yet been recovered from the HotCam incident.