Officers warn of sneaky Aiken scamming team

News 12 at First at Five / Wednesday, Sep. 5, 2012

AIKEN, S.C. -- The Kroger on Whiskey Road in Aiken is the latest scene of a flimflam scam.

"It was a well-planned scheme. I mean, they were successful in what they did," said Lt. Karl Odenthal with the Aiken Department of Public Safety.

An incident report says three suspects entered the store last Friday around 7 p.m. One of them went up to the cashier to purchase a bottle of hot sauce and a package of toilet paper. The other two distracted shoppers nearby.

"The exchange of money ended up intentionally short-changing the business of money,"Odenthal said.

He says it was a well-rehearsed scam. The man handed the cashier a large bill to pay for the items, and when he got his change back, he said the amount was wrong. He got his own bill back and slipped it into his pocket while the cashier recounted the change. When she verified that the amount of change was correct, she gave him the bills and change, but she forgot that she'd given him the large bill back, too.

"You know, there's the pressure of the line building behind them, and I think that's one of their methods that they use -- when there's a lot of pressure," Odenthal said.

He says this isn't the first time it's happened or even the first time this year at this Kroger. In the report, the cashier says she believes the same three subjects were responsible the time before.

"Oh, it happens on a regular basis. It does. It's not as frequent here in Aiken, but it does happen regularly," Odenthal said.

That's why Aiken Public Safety needs the public's help.

"Don't confront the subjects. We don't know if they're armed or not. In this particular case, we're going to be reviewing video from the store. There's always a lot of little things that can help us make a case," he said.

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