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The dealer in question became suspicious after receiving a poorly spelled and worded email from a man claiming to act as an agent for an anonymous client interested in buying a number of antiques.
The ‘agent’ gave his name as Shawn Brandson Jr and claimed his client, who lived in St Kitts, was owed money by a debtor in France who would offset the debt by paying for the antiques. Payment would be by banker’s draft via the National Irish Bank.

It later emerged that the fraudsters had worked out a system of having the banker’s draft invalidated after the goods had been dispatched.

The circumstances of the approach made the dealer highly suspicious and, after taking advice, he conducted an internet search via the Google search engine. After typing in the name Shawn Brandson Jr, he was presented with links to two websites, britisharts.co.uk and professional-artists.com, both of which had flagged up the name as being used in international fraud.

“There are a large number of websites dedicated to fraud alerts, which can be very useful for making a quick check, but they are by no means all-inclusive, and so should not be relied on exclusively,” said ATG editor Ivan Macquisten.