'Britain's greatest ever fraudster' predicts Christmas blitz for retailers

The man once dubbed 'Britain's greatest ever fraudster' after stealing an estimated £30 million through a complex series of scams is warning UK retailers that they will see a pre-Christmas onslaught by thieves and fraudsters.

The Retail Fraud Study has shown that fraud and loss is on the increase and Tony Sales, who now advises retailers on how to guard against theft and fraud, is predicting that the UK retail sector will be hardest hit in the first two weeks of December as thieves and fraudsters look to have a very merry Christmas.

Sales warning comes on the back of an already tough year for UK retail after the recent Retail Fraud Study discovered a 10% increase in theft and fraud which cost the UK retail sector £3.4billion. Sales commented: "The first two weeks of December represent a prime time for fraudsters to strike as they present an ideal mix of over-stretched staff, special promotional deals and increased customer footfall to hide behind. If they want to have a good Christmas they know they need to hit then so they can cash in and those first couple of weeks of the festive rush creates an ideal environment for them to successfully strike."

Since completing his last prison service in 2010 Sales has been acting as a consultant for retailers advising them on how too close the loop holes that leave them vulnerable to theft and fraud. He believes that retailers need to change their mindset if they are going to get ahead in the ongoing battle against fraudsters.

Sales added: "Retailers continue to fail get inside the mind of the fraudsters which is hampering them in their attempts to thwart criminal activity. Fraudsters look for the opportunity to exploit rather than the systems that retailers deploy and this is a mindset that retailers need to get a firm understanding of if they are to start making significant reductions to their losses. Festive promotional deals are ripe for exploitation by fraudsters as they often fraught with the potential for an easy win for criminals so retailers should be examining this before it is too late."

Paul Bessant, Managing Director of leading retail sector body Retail Knowledge, commented: "The Retail Fraud Study was born from retail solution providers Volumatic and RGIS wanting to promote the idea of retail collectively protecting themselves against theft and fraud, an attitude that is collaborated by the views of a former prolific fraudster. Retailers would do well to heed the warning of Tony who is a seasoned 'professional' in terms of fraud. Tony understands the mind of the fraudster and the ideal conditions for a successful scam so our advice is that retailers are extra vigilant in the run up to Christmas and do everything possible to close any loop holes that festive promotions may leave them susceptible to."

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