Staff at retail outlets, post offices, petrol stations and banks are being warned to be on their guard against the scam - Ringing the Changes.
Officers from Tayside Division of Police Scotland have issued the warning for the crime where thieves, using sleight of hand, aim to confuse and/or distract staff into giving them extra money when they ask them to change notes.
The fraud known as Ringing the Changes commonly involves shop staff being persuaded into exchanging denominations of what can be substantial sums of money with a seemingly innocent customer.
The reality is that, the customer and any associates are well-practised criminals who rely on some well-rehearsed patter, distraction and sleight of hand to take advantage of the 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 include receiving change and then immediately cancelling the transaction while failing to return an amount of cash; changing money to foreign currency accepting it and then cancelling the deal and not returning a portion of the money.
A Tayside Division spokesman said: “We appeal to all retailers and their staff, as well as employees at post office, petrol stations and banks would urge all retailers to be on their guard.
“The pressures of serving in a busy premises and the desire to provide customer satisfaction can offer the ideal set of circumstances for this type of hustle.
“The fraudster is trying to profit on people’s willingness to help and the art of distraction.
“But please be suspicious of any customer requesting large denomination notes be changes, or who wishes to cancel transactions once cash is on the counter. If you are faced with such a scenario you should try, if possible, to call on a colleague for assistance.
“Ultimately, if you have any doubts or suspicions, refuse the request.’’
Anyone who has information that could assist the police investigation in to recent Ringing the Changes incidents should call Police Scotland on 101, or speak to any officer.