The Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit has arrested eight men and three women and 100 chequebooks capable of fraud worth five million pounds.
Numerous printers and printing materials that could be used to forge cheques, and a sizeable quantity of crack cocaine and heroin, were also found in 22 addresses and a vehicle that were searched.
Six properties were raided in Scotland in operations at addresses including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Hamilton, and Dumfries.
Three men aged 28,33,34 and a woman aged 33 were arrested by Dumfries and Galloway Police and have appeared at Dumfries Sheriff Court.
In Yorkshire, five other men, three aged 32, and one 33 and 30, and two women, 31 and 29, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. They were questioned in West Yorkshire police stations and later released on bail.
The specialist police unit, which comprises officers from the City of London and Metropolitan police forces, is sponsored by the banks to investigate and stamp out organised card and cheque fraud across the UK.
Detectives have been investigating a counterfeiting network for months and suspect they could have been making up to £50,000 a week using counterfeit cheques, potentially netting up to £10 million in total.
Cheque usage has gone down in recent years but there are still over 2.7 million cheque transactions a day. Although the most recent figures show that cheque fraud is rising, more than 90% of all fraudulent cheques are detected as they go through the cheque clearing process.
Organised crime gangs continue to steal customer cheques to use as templates, and are also targeting company chequebooks. But they are now purchasing higher quality printers, paper and ink from the internet to produce counterfeit cheques that are much more difficult to detect. This, combined with many people no longer being familiar with cheque security, is creating increasingly fertile ground for fraudsters.
Unit head DCI Dave Carter said: “A decline in counterfeit cheque fraud ironically left a chink in the door, with criminals now combining old techniques with the specialist purchasing powers of the internet to really cash-in on a general lack of public awareness of cheque security.
"But these arrests send out a strong message across the UK to members of the public and criminals. We are alive to the threat of counterfeit cheques, we take it very seriously, and will travel far and wide in pursuit of those we believe are responsible.”
Contextual targeting label: