police are warning market traders about a fraud offence where the offender uses sleight of hand to con them out of cash.

The warning follows an incident at a market stall on Threadneedle Street in Stroud at the weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, November 26, at around 1pm a man visited a stall at the market and selected a number of items totalling £275. He handed the vendor the cash, counting it out, before insisting they quickly put it away. He then offered to buy the entire stall, to which the owner declined. At this point the ‘shopper’ insisted on a refund, which he was given. The salesperson then noticed they were £40 short on the day’s takings.

It’s thought that the man had used sleight of hand when handing over the money to make it appear as though he was giving the full amount. Crime Reduction Officer for the county, Paul Francis, said: “On the run up to Christmas traders should be especially aware of scams such as this.

“We urge vendors to be vigilant to these types of scams as offenders can be very quick and subtle in how they carry out such crimes so it’s easy for people to get confused about what cash has exchanged hands.

“We suggest you always count cash out yourself, even if the customer has counted it out for you. Remember that you have the right to refuse service if you are concerned about a customer’s actions and if you are in any way suspicious call the police.”

The man was described as Asian Eastern European, between 32 and 37-years-old, around 6ft tall and of ‘stocky’ build. He had dark hair and was wearing a dark blue coat and blue trousers. He was in the company of a young boy.

Police are asking anyone who witnessed the offence or who has any information that could help the investigation to call Gloucestershire Police on 101 quoting incident number 307 of November 26.

You can also give information anonymously by contacting the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org