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James Podger, the proprietor of Great Grooms antiques centre in Hungerford, where the couple defrauded dealers out of about £1500, said: “This is a professional criminal and the trade need to be warned.”

The cheques are drawn from the Honiton branch of Lloyds TSB and registered to J. Mawson and A. Osland t/a Past and Present Antiques.

The man calling himself Mr Mawson, who also goes under the alias of N.F. Smith, is in his mid 30s, approximately 6ft tall, of medium build and with mousy blond hair. His female companion, calling herself
A. Osland, has been described as petite, with dark curly hair. The pair are often accompanied by a Jack Russell terrier and have been seen driving a white Sierra estate with registration number S843 CGP. They have been using a passport and gas bill as identification.

The trade are asked to be on their guard and any information should be forwarded to PC Dave Lee of Whitney CID on 01993 893834.