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As with many similar letters sent out before, THIS IS A SCAM.

So new is this particular con that the Office of Fair Trading were unaware of it when contacted by the Antiques Trade Gazette last week. Officials later confirmed that, as far as they could tell, members of the antiques trade have been among the first targeted.

The scam first came to light after a large number of dealers rang the Antiques Trade Gazette to say they had received final notices from the Anti-Money Laundering Support Team of an organisation called the National Training Scheme of Lyme House, 98 Plane Tree Drive Crewe, Cheshire CW1 4ES.

The notice, which is accompanied by forms and demands for payments, starts with the threatening message: “Despite previous correspondence, we have still not received your reply for compliance via our anti-money laundering training compliance pack and registration scheme. Failure to comply with the procedures mentioned in the The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, from 1st September 2004 constitutes a criminal offence.”

The notice goes on to warn of the penalties involved, how it all applies to the recipient of the letter and how to deal with the form, including how much to pay them.

A yellow form included is headed up NCIS, the National Criminal Intelligence Service. As further Antiques Trade Gazette investigations via the Institute of Chartered Accountants discovered, however, NCIS have no link with those sending out the notices. NCIS do not operate any such scheme and advise any recipient of the notice and forms to report the matter to their local Trading Standards office.

LAPADA, who have also had a number of complaints from members, have sent out an email alert on the matter.