The great Sunshine Coast seafood heist
UPDATE 2.30PM: A seafood scam that robbed three wholesalers of stock worth $30,000 has left Point Cartwright Seafoods manager Michael Thomas devastated.UPDATE 2.30PM:
He thought he was supplying a business that had been let down and needed a large order last-minute. Instead he was robbed of more than $7000 worth of high-quality produce.
"Because we're based on the Sunshine Coast we do get a few wholesale enquiries from people that we've never dealt with before because another company may have let them down," he said.
"We're not a long way from Brisbane and on weekends freight is a major issue for weddings and major events so we do get this (late orders) a bit."
The scammers, who police believed to be a man and woman based in Brisbane, placed a large order late on Friday, May 19 and forwarded a fake bank transfer remittance, which could not be verified before Monday or Tuesday.
They collected the seafood on the Saturday morning using a refrigerated truck hired in Brisbane with a driver's licence bearing a Chinese name.
The Warana wholesaler and a Mooloolaba business were both hit, as well as a supplier at Capalaba - which lost $15,000 worth of stock - with a total loss to the three businesses of $30,000.
Sunshine Coast CIB officer-in-charge Daren Edwards said the scammers got away with large amounts of lobster tail, prawns and scallops.
"Their motive is unknown at the moment but certainly it could have been on-sold or it could have been used in restaurants," he said.
Detective Senior Sergeant Edwards said police wanted to hear from anyone who might have bought seafood from these people at a discounted price, or other businesses that might have been approached.
"We believe there might be other seafood businesses that have had these attempts to defraud them as well but perhaps because the transfers had not occurred they didn't release the seafood," he said.
The theft has been a "massive hit" for Point Cartwright Seafoods, putting extra financial pressure on the business going into the winter season.
Mr Thomas said there was nothing his insurance company could do, and he held little hope of the scammers being caught or seeing any reimbursement.
"They're definitely not based here on the Sunshine Coast ... they may have just flown in. The products they sought were high-value items and they attract big prices overseas," he said.
EARLIER: About $30,000 worth of seafood has been stolen from businesses at Mooloolaba, Warana and Capalaba in a fraudulent scam.EARLIER:
Sunshine Coast police investigating the heist found scammers placed large seafood orders, then provided doctored bank statements showing payments had been transferred.
The scammers collected the orders between Friday, May 19 and Saturday, May 20, before businesses checked their accounts to reveal no payments had been made.
A refrigerated vehicle used to transport the seafood was hired in Brisbane using a Chinese driver's licence.
Police have released an image, taken from the Point Cartwright business at Warana, of a man who may be able to assist with their inquiries into this matter.
Anyone who may have information relating to these offences or know the person in the images are asked to contact police.
Police are also appealing for other businesses who may have been to also contact them.