Writes Katie Williams

DIRECTORS of a bespoke hamper business say they have been "knocked sideways" after they lost thousands of pounds worth of produce to fraudsters.

Hayley Davis and Laurie Griffin, of Cherry Picked Hampers, have been left counting the cost after the business fell victim to card fraud.

In October, a man who reportedly told the pair that he had recently moved to Dorset made an order for 15 luxury hampers worth £2,000, collecting and paying for them two days later.

However, almost a month later, Miss Davis received a call from the bank informing them that the transaction was fraudulent, and the money was taken out of their account.

Miss Davis said they can't get the money back, and spoke of the "significant impact" it has had on their business based in Winterborne Whitechurch.

She said: "We had email communication and lots of telephone calls with them (the customer). They gave us a local address.

"We've had times in the past where people have tried to take advantage, but this was such a blatant theft.

"£2,000 is a large amount...it's so detrimental to us as a small business, it can be make or break for us at this time of year.

"We've just moved into new premises and it's really upsetting. It's knocked us sideways."

Miss Davis and Miss Griffin, who are both mothers, buy only Dorset produce to fill the hampers - which can include chocolates, cheese, wine and biscuits.

"They are luxury items," Miss Davis said. "It was a huge amount for us and obviously we have to pay for all the stock. It's awful."

Miss Davis added that they had carried out checks at the time of the payment due to the size of the order.

"We spoke to the bank to check the card wasn't stolen, and we spoke to the company that take the payment for us. They told us it should be fine. We feel like we did everything we could."

Police have launched an investigation following the incident.

A Dorset Police spokesman said they received a report shortly after 9am on Wednesday, November 6 of a card fraud at Cherry Picked Hampers.

"It was reported that an order was placed to the value of £2,000," the spokesman said.

"A man attended the business on Friday, October 11 to collect his order and pay. The company received a notification on November 6 that the card payment was fraudulent.

"An investigation is ongoing into the report. No arrests have been made."

Originally published in the Bournemouth Echo

READ MORE: Not so fast: Nearly 2,000 motorists in Dorset have speeding fines cancelled