How to spot quick change scams

Written by michael roennevig Google
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How to spot quick change scams
Paying with a large bill for a few cheap items could be a sign of a scammer. (Getty Thinkstock)

Quick change scam fraudsters attempt to confuse cashiers in the middle of a transaction and convince them into handing over more change than is due. It's hardly crime of the century as far as large supermarkets are concerned, but can be a big headache for small retailers with tight margins. If you're concerned about being targeted by this sort of criminal ruse, make sure you, your managers and most importantly your cashiers know what signs to look out for.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Look out for pairs or groups of people loitering around your shop. Quick change scam fraudsters often operate with others. One person may carry out a transaction at your till, while the other or others create a distraction to confuse your cashier. The petty criminals who carry out this type of scam will typically target young or inexperienced cashiers, so may hang around to establish a soft target among your staff before making their move. As such, you should keep an your eye on new-starters.

  2. 2

    Be wary of customers handing over large notes for small purchases. Don't just look out for £50 notes. Quick change scammers may hand over a £20 or even a £10 note for items such as a newspaper or a packet of chewing gum. Some fraudsters will go for a series of small hits as opposed to one big one. Conning multiple cashiers at different shops out of £10 a time will be seen by some thieves as easier than trying to fleece £50 out of a single retailer.

  3. 3

    Keep an eye out for overly-chatty or aggressive customers, particularly those who become animated or bullying after money first changes hands. Quick change fraudsters will often use conversation or an intimidating manner to distract and confuse a cashier while a transaction is taking place. You should also be concious of other customers, who may in reality be in cahoots with a fraudster, aiming to distract your staff.

  4. 4

    Instruct your cashiers to be suspicious of customers who can't decide how they would like their change. If somebody's umming and ahhing over whether they receive what's due back to them in notes or coins and in what denomination, you could be dealing with a quick change scammer. Suspicions should be aroused further if your patron introduces more of their own money into proceedings.

Tips and warnings

  • Place large notes on the top of your cash register until a transaction has been fully completed. That way, a fraudster will be unable to claim he handed you a larger note than he did.
  • Take control of the situation if you feel a customer is trying to discombobulate you. State clearly how much money you were given and how much change you're returning and call an end to the matter without allowing any further interruptions.
  • Instruct your cashiers to close their till and call a manager if they suspect a quick change scam.
  • Balance your till in front of your suspected scammer to establish if he was trying to pull a fast one.
  • Check CCTV footage of the transaction.
  • If somebody you don't trust wants to break a large note at your store, tell him you don't have enough change and direct him to the nearest bank.
  • Note any suspected fraudster's appearance and report him to the police.

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