Abingdon Police Department
For Immediate Release
Merchants Beware of Quick Change Artists
Quick-change artist, or change raising, is a common short con that involves an offer to change an amount of money with someone, while at the same time taking change or bills back and forth to confuse the person as to how much money is actually being changed.
It often starts with a small purchase from a large bill and ends with no sale and a short cash register till. The con man seeks to confuse the employee by requesting multiple transactions, then walks away with almost double the amount originally presented for payment or change.
This crime usually happens so fast, most people don't realize they've been ripped off until hours later or when they balance the cash drawer at the end of a shift.
Many salespeople or clerks, especially younger employees, fall victim to this because they are trying to provide good customer service and are not as assertive in handling situations like this as more experienced employees. Their inexperience makes them excellent targets for the fast-cash scam.
Most quick change artists target convenience stores or fast-food restaurants where there are young employees who get rattled easily and don't want to slow down a long service line. The quick-change artist will always attempt to get two or three transactions ahead so the clerk forgets how much change is actually needed.
Quick-change cons usually do not involve a lot of money. Based upon bill size it is difficult for the store to lose more than $100.00. However, hitting several businesses with the same scam in a short period can be quite lucrative.
These tips may help employees spot a prospective con artist and avoid being scammed:
· Look for people wanting to purchase an inexpensive item with a large bill.
§ Employees should be free to ask if the customer has a smaller bill for the purchase. If the customer insists on breaking a large bill and you suspect he has smaller denominations, don’t be afraid to decline the transaction.
§ Smaller businesses can take it a step further by keeping no bills larger than $20 in the register, and posting signs stating that policy.
· Be cautious of a customer asking for multiple transactions while keeping the money in hand.
§ For example, a customer buys a carton of drinks with a $50 bill, asks for the change in 10s, then changes his mind to 5s and a 20. Before you know it, he pulls out a bill, asks for change in quarters, and demands the original change which he has asked for in several different denominations.
· The best way to avoid this problem is to take the money presented, keep it in the open but in the hands of the cashier
· Do not put money from the customer in the register until the change has been made. This way employees can see exactly what was given to them and know how much change to make.
· Handle each requested transaction separately.
§ This means make change as requested and closing the drawer. If the customer asks for another transaction, take his money first, then make change for it.
· If a customer's requests for change start to sound confusing, ask the customer to slow down or simply stop the transaction completely and start over.
· If all else fails, direct the customer to the nearest bank and ask them to return to complete the transaction once they have denominations needed to complete the sale.