Police issue retail scam warning

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Tayside Police is again warning all retail outlets to be on their guard against a scam – commonly known as Ringing the Changes – where thieves aim to confuse staff into giving money away. The appeal follows recent incidents in the Angus area that have netted fraudsters hundreds of pounds in cash. The scam involves shop staff exchanging substantial sums of money to a seemingly innocent customer seeking change. In truth, the customer is a practised criminal who relies on some well-rehearsed patter and sleight of hand to take full advantage of shop worker’s good will. Very often it is only when the so-called customer has left that the deception is discovered.

Variations on the theme that have been applied across the UK and include receiving change and then immediately cancelling the transaction while failing to return an amount of cash or changing money to foreign currency accepting it and then cancelling the deal and not returning a portion of the money.

A Tayside Police spokesman said: “We would urge all retailers to ensure that their staff is alert to this scam, as it can and often does involve quite large sums of money. The pressures of serving a busy shop and even the desire to provide customer satisfaction can offer the ideal set of circumstances for this type of hustle, because the criminal is trying to profit through distracting counter staff and abusing their willingness to try and help.

“Clearly staff would want to be courteous and helpful. But they also need to be mindful of this scam and be suspicious of any customer requesting large denomination notes to be changed, or those who wish to cancel transactions once cash is on the counter. If faced with this scenario staff should try, where possible, to call on another colleague for assistance. Ultimately, if any member of staff has doubts or suspicions, they should decline the request.”

Anyone who has concerns about individuals who may be carrying out these activities should contact Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222. In an emergency contact 999.