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The Counterfeit Cash Scam

Posted by Awareness

The Definition: The Counterfeit Cash Scam involves some deft sleight-of-hand to put the dip on shopkeepers and clerks. Though trained to spot counterfeits, these clerks are badly fooled by our resourceful con, and are duped in accepting notes from the scammer that were printed by, shall we say, less than reputable sources.

The Mark: Any shopkeeper or clerk can become a victim of this scam. If you handle money and operate a cash register, hustlers see you as a potential mark.

The Scam: Loaded with a pocketful of phony £20 notes, our hustler takes to the street in search of a likely mark; a clerk in a convenience store or any small shopkeeper. He casually picks up some small items at the counter – gum perhaps, or mints. But he also picks up something a bit larger, like a cheap DVD so frequently positioned right near the register as an impulse purchase.

The purchase of the DVD is a key step, because it will eventually serve to conceal the actions of the con.

Out of his right pocket, the scammer pulls a fifty; a real fifty, because it certainly will be examined by the suspicious clerk. After all, he’s been trained to spot phonies and the con expects him to check; it’s all part of the ploy to lower the clerk’s guard and gain his trust.

Whilst the clerk is making change for the fifty, likely involving two twenties and maybe a few smaller bills, our scam-artist is surreptitiously removing a pair of fake twenties from their repository in his left pocket. These phonies are then concealed in the cons left hand, hidden beneath the DVD, which is in plain sight of the counter. Notice that the con is doing nothing that the clerk can consider furtive, thereby lessening the clerk’s suspicions. When the clerk hands back the change from the fifty, the con will do something distracting, perhaps dropping his coins on the counter – anything to misdirect the clerk’s attention.

At that instant, the con is exchanging the two phony twenties for the two real twenties the clerk has just given him. This takes place beneath the DVD, which has completely obstructed the clerk’s view of the swap. Transferring the fake bills to his right hand, our scammer asks the clerk if he wouldn’t mind breaking the two twenties and would he give him four tens?

You are not shocked to learn that the clerk does NOT inspect these twenties. Their legality goes unchallenged – after all, has not the clerk himself just handed the customer these bills? So into the till go the phony twenties, and into the pocket of the scam artist go four, crisp, ill-gotten – but legal! – tenners.

The Lesson Learned: Shopkeepers and clerks, you must understand that any bill of £10 or larger that gets passed over the counter must be inspected. It matters not what you think is happening; it matters only that the status of the note be determined before it enters the till. Once a note is in a customer’s hands, and you no longer control it, do NOT trust it. Your trust could wind up costing you dearly.

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