Independent garages across the north-east are being urged to be vigilant following a recent scam.
Fraudsters have been using cloned credit cards to place orders over the phone before duping garages by making excuses regarding their vehicles and having tyres picked up by a van driver.
Payment clears initially until the fraud is identified, but by the time the scam is quashed, the tyres have already been collected.
Crime reduction officer PC Mark Irvine said: “There have been reported incidents throughout Scotland. In North East Division we are currently aware of recent reports in the south Aberdeenshire area, however, we expect there may be more that come to light.
“When taking credit card orders online, always ensure you take all the card details, number, expiry date, three digit security code, as well as full name, address, postcode and contact numbers.
“Before handing over the goods, request to see the credit card used to place the order or proof of identity.
“The investigation is ongoing, with more people continuing to come forward.”
Paul Mackie, owner of Firstdrive Cars in Stonehaven, said his business has not been targeted but he is aware of others nearby receiving unsolicited requests.
He said: “The police came in to see us yesterday, just to warn us that this is going on.
“It is a bit worrying that this is going on but we feel we are well prepared and quite switched on to this kind of thing.
“We know our customers really well and have been here for 25 years. You get a feeling for these kinds of things and can smell a rat a mile off.
“If somebody randomly phones trying to buy £1,000 worth of tyres and if they can come and get them, you immediately start asking the questions; who is this person? Why do they want to take the tyres away? Why don’t they want us to fit them? It just doesn’t sound right.
“I am quite confident that I would not fall foul of this. We are pretty sharp and you would have to be pretty good to get by me.”
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) for the north east has said they are disappointed independent businesses, in particular, have been targeted.
David Groundwater, FSB’s development manager, said: “At a time when almost everyone is pulling together to get through this very tough patch, it’s depressing that opportunist thieves are targeting small and independent firms.
“These are businesses who have not only managed to make it through an extremely torrid six months, but also businesses who in many cases have invested absolutely everything from their life savings, retirement funds and family incomes.
“When all of our efforts need to be focussed on the health pandemic and the economic recovery, the last thing we need is a surge in crime of any description.
“Lots of people are struggling – not least the small business owners and self-employed people that are being targeted in this latest scam. There’s no excuse for this sort of criminality or indeed any criminality and it’s not a victimless crime.
“We’d encourage everyone to remain vigilant and follow the advice provided by Police Scotland.”
Police have urged victims of this fraud or anybody with information to contact officers on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.