03:00AM, Friday 01 August 2014
A warning has been issued by the Windsor District Chamber of Commerce after business rate cheques to the Royal Borough were intercepted.
A police investigation has been launched after cheques from two firms in the Ascot area were sent to the Royal Borough to pay business rates but were cashed by a third party.
It is believed the amount cashed through these intercepted cheques is in the region of many thousands of pounds.
The alleged fraud came to light after chamber of commerce member Janet Campbell brought up the issue at the organisation's executive meeting at Royal Windsor Racecourse on Monday.
The owner of Inspirations, a gift shop in Sunninghill High Street, said: "I paid in a cheque to the council in March for £332 and I later received a letter from the Royal Borough saying I had not paid, but when I checked my bank account the cheque had been cashed.
"It's a shame that it's happening but it's also a worry because it can mess up your cashflow and it can make you look inefficient if you're paying the rates on behalf of a client."
Anthony Edwards, director of Edwards and Elliott estate agents in Ascot High Street, has made a complaint to the Royal Borough on behalf of a client after their business rate cheque was intercepted.
He said: "Ultimately I am hoping we will be able to retrieve the money back from the bank but it makes you think it would be better to pay business rates electronically to make it safer."
Amanda Gee, chairman of Windsor District Chamber of Commerce, said: "We need to make businesses aware they should be making cheques payable to the 'Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead' rather than 'RBWM' which should prevent other people from cashing it."A spokeswoman from the Royal Borough confirmed that some cheques sent to the council had 'gone missing' and the police were investigating
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