Young con-artists target two shops in Northampton using cruel credit card trick
A cafe and a shop owner are warning traders to be wary of two young men who are believed to be using a scam tactic to steal money from small businesses.
The duo are known to have hit two local firms already using an advanced credit card fraud trick.
Colin Ingle of The Drovers Return cafe in Hunsbury Hill Country Park was defrauded of £890 by the young men when they entered his premises at the end of August.
"They completely fooled us," he said. "And the credit card company is refusing to help us as well."
The two young men, one of whom is noticeably stocky and Asian, ordered £8.90 worth of food at the Drovers Return and went to pay for it at the till using what turned out to be a fake card.
One of the duo distracted Mr Ingle while the other quickly added two zeros to the price of the transaction on the handheld card reader and - somehow - bypassed the sale so it went through.
The duo then demanded a refund for their apparent £890 bill - which they claimed was simply the result of the cashier adding too many zeros.
At this point, it appears they used sleight of hand to place a different card in the chip and pin reader to receive the refund.
It was not until two weeks after the incident that Mr Ingle was told the initial transaction was from a fake card - and that he had, in fact, simply paid out £890 onto a different card.
"They make you feel like it is a genuine mistake" said Colin. "You think you've just pressed some extra zeros, but they have done that themselves.
"One lad did this great act saying 'my dad will kill me, he just topped up my student loan' when asking for the refund."
Mr Ingle shared details of the incident on Facebook and within days had been told of three other sightings of the boys in the greater Northampton area.
Michelle Coleman - the owner of Cottonbuds in St Leonard's Road, Far Cotton - also had £720 stolen from her florists on August 31 from what was almost certain to be the same two people, having compared CCTV footage.
They used an identical method after ordering an £7.20 bouquet at the till at around 4.30pm.
Sadly in both cases, the companies running the chip and pin machines have refused to reimburse the shops as the refunds were authorised.
"That could be a month's take for a little business," said Michelle.
"I want them to be caught so they don't do this to anyone else."
Northamptonshire Police has called for anyone who recognises the men to come forward.