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Police warning over pre-Christmas cash scam in Cornwall

Police warning over pre-Christmas cash scam in Cornwall

Published by Emma Carton at 7:34am 17th December 2019. (Updated at 7:35am 17th December 2019)

A cash scam has resurfaced and is doing the rounds in Cornwall and Devon just before Christmas.

Police have issued a warning about the con known as Ringing the Changes.

It is where Post Office staff are being asked to change notes for smaller currency, then being distracted.

The force has issued a Neighbourhood Alert, following reports of men with Eastern European accents targeting branches.

"Post Offices are asked to be vigilant following reports of Ringing the Changes scam in the Devon and Cornwall area.

"Reports are that suspects are male and have Eastern European accents.

"Please advise staff accordingly regarding this scam which involves being distracted by whilst being asked to change notes for smaller currency".

Devon and Cornwall Police

What is Ringing the Changes?

"This is a term used for a type of fraud which involves the offender asking for a sum of cash to be changed into notes of a different denomination, for example 10 x £20 notes changed to 20 x £10.

"Once the cashier has counted out the cash and handed it to the offender, the offender will usually count the money again in front of the cashier and use a sleight of hand technique as he/she is doing so, in order to steal some of the money.

"The offender will then ask the cashier to change the money again, often into an outlandish denomination such as 10p pieces. 

"The cashier will refuse and it is at this point that the offender will then ask for his/her original money back.

"The cashier assumes that the offender is handing back the full amount and exchanges it for the original money. 

"The offender leaves with the original money, plus whatever they stole during the sleight of hand trick.

"It is not unusual for the scam to go unnoticed until the tills are cashed at the end of the day. 

"Ringing the Changes usually happens during busy times which adds to the confusion and places extra pressure on staff".

Devon and Cornwall Police

How can I stop Ringing the Changes?

The most effective way to prevent such offending is to increase awareness among your staff and follow these simple tips:

  • Refuse to exchange notes and adopt a ‘no change’ or ‘one note only’ policy.
  • Be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to the Police.
  • If you have CCTV, ensure that it is working correctly and is capable of identifying potential suspects.
  • Display a poster in the window saying this stores does not change money.
  • If your store does have to exchange money e.g. Bureau de Change, ensure that staff count and recount any money handed over by the offender. The scam is reliant on the cashier assuming that they have been given back the original amount.

You can read more advice from Devon and Cornwall Police here or watch the scam in action...

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