Police are warning suppliers to be vigilant after uncovering a gang of criminals defrauding fruit and veg producers across the country to the tune of £1m.
The ringleader, Mohammed Janjua, was sentenced to five years in prison by Manchester Crown Court in June for fraudulent trading and theft, but other members of the group are still being pursued by police, said DS Steve Taylor from the commercial fraud office at Greater Manchester Police.
"This case shows how easy it is to get ripped off if people are dealing in cash and don't ask basic questions," he said.
Janjua and two others bought Manchester-based fruit and veg wholesaler James Heyes & Son earlier this year for a cash sum.
Suppliers were unaware the business had changed hands, and believed the company when it told them it had secured vast amounts of new business and upped orders dramatically, said Taylor.
The goods were bought on credit, while retail/foodservice customers paid in cash. Because Heyes had been consistently creditworthy, suppliers gave the company plenty of time to pay. But Janjua pocketed the cash and left.
He was caught after failing to make payments on Mercedes cars, said Taylor.

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