Shopkeepers, market traders and other businesses in the New Forest are being alerted to a recent hoax which left cashiers short-changed.

The distraction scam involves a person creating confusion for the cashier when money is changing hands – either in asking for change for a large note or when paying for an item and then requesting a specific type of change, such as pound coins.

The fraudsters recently targeted a New Forest Health and Leisure centre when a group of three men confused staff by asking for different amounts of change for a £20 note, then gave back some of the money and asking for another type of change.

This deception confused the cashier to the extent that they were left unsure how much money they had given back.

The Safer New Forest Partnership asks local businesses to make their staff aware of the hoax and refuse to change money in this way if such trickery is suspected.

Cllr Jill Cleary, New Forest District Council portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: “This is a despicable con which has left cashiers distressed after being cheated by these fraudsters. We hope all local businesses will be on their guard and refuse if they are asked to engage in money changing transactions such as this.”

Cllr Di Brooks, New Forest District Council’s portfolio holder for health and leisure, added: “We hope that by alerting people to the scam at one of our leisure centres, it will make others aware of this problem and prevent further fraud.”

Please contact Hampshire police on 101 to report any similar deceptions.