Well I Finally Got Scammed Errrrrrr

After working some 15 years with cash, last night, while working in a computer store for Christmas, I finally got scammed by someone.

Here’s my rant


She came to my register and bought a $3.00 and she had two kids and she pulled the old give me a $20 then got 17 back and said, I need money for the bus, do you have a five and ten ones, then switched back to, you know what, forget it, I’ll take back the ten.

You know how the routine goes, it went on a few times. The thing is I never put any money in the till, untill I’m done giving change, so I had the original twenty, it was the back and forth that got me

Then she left, I thought…Wait a minute…I have the 20, where’s my ten?

It was really busy (5pm) and I said, "She got me, I’m gonna be short ten bucks. Sure enough when I counted out at the day’s end my drawer was ten dollars short.


I was so embarrassed. If I could’ve got to an ATM I would’ve replaced it by the end of the day.

I feel so stupid, as I worked in accounting for years, this scam is SO OLD, they were doing it in the early 80s, when I first started in hotels with cash.

The thing that got me off guard was the kids, they were so cute

Oh well, it’s only a Christmas job and the manager was nice about it, she said, “Well we do give you three chances…”

I only hope the lady needed money to buy Christmas presents for those kids or something like that.

So now that I’ve proven even self professed “Smart people” like me can get scammed, anyone else got any stories of how they worked with cash and got scammed

Don’t forget to add your Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…


You should have put it in the till and then thought of every single other thing as a separate transaction. Happened to me once in retail when I was much younger and stupider.

I was working a till once and after I left, a couple of hours later I got a call asking if I might have accepted a fake Benjamin. As it turned out, I had actually accepted a C-note and had given change, but there was nothing obviously fake about it. Turned out it was the person who relieved me who accepted the fake. How this person missed this is a mystery, though:

Someone had taken a $1 bill, and had cut the zeros off some other bills (probably tens), and–not kidding–pasted the zeroes beside the “1.” They were able to identify the person who had passed it off, but I don’t recall what came of it, if anything.

When I saw a video on Youtube of that scam from some British TV show, the guy even said “The hard thing is, I can even tell you ‘I’m about to upchange you’ and you still won’t be able to tell what just happened.” Boy, was he right. It’s so hard to keep track of it all that by the time he was done with the trick, I was like “Wait, he didn’t get anything. I don’t understand.” until he fanned out the bills and proved me wrong.

I worked a cash register for about 5 years as a kid and have never heard of this. Could you please briefly describe how this works, point by point?

  • Hands over $20
  • Gets $17 back
  • Hands back $15 for change
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

If it happened to me, I would probably just chalk it up as maybe you helped pay for another present for one of the kids, or maybe part of the Christmas dinner.

I know it’s extremely unlikely, but it would make me feel better.

Look up “shortchange scam” to see some examples. Here’s a fairly simple one:

The idea is for the shortchange artist (one name these con artists are known by) to quickly and constantly change her* mind as to how she wants her change, while the clerk is making it. The idea is to confuse the clerk, but you can be assured the shortchange artist is keeping track of everything.

Let’s put together a typical scenario using the OP’s details. The woman bought something for $3 and handed the OP a $20 bill. He starts to gather together $17 in change–let’s say, a ten, a five, and two ones.

“No, I’ll need change for the bus. Can you make it five ones?”

OP dives back into his till, replacing the five and gathering ones.

“Oh, what am I thinking? I’ve got the kids. Change that ten into five ones and a fiver.”

OP dives back into his till, replacing and gathering.

“No, wait. That’s more ones than I need. Trade some of those ones for…”

This is happening quickly, and goes on once or twice more. Notice especially how the original purchase transaction was never completed–it got sidetracked into a flurry of change-making; and in the end, the clerk has inadvertently handed out more than he should have.

I worked as a part-time retail clerk for some years, as well as a casino cashier, and ran into a few of these people. The key to dealing with them, as noted above, is to complete every transaction separately. “Yes, I’ll make change, but let me finish this first; once I’ve given you your change from this purchase, I’ll change whatever you want.”

  • Note that shortchange artists can be either men or women, but I used a woman in this post, as the OP encountered a woman.

It’s happened to me, too. I knew she was pulling something, but they get you all flustered and confused–especially if the con artist throws a little attitude in there. Doesn’t matter how smart you are, it’s a trick that is, unfortunately, very effective.

I watched in person one in a convenience store. I was stuck in a deer in the headlights position since I couldn’t decide what to do. I was pretty sure I could see what was going on but would have been awfully damned embarrassed if I spoke up and was wrong. Fortunately the manager came up from the back and seemed to know what was happening and put a halt to it.

But watching it was kind of a thing of beauty.

Here’s an example in narrative form. It’s called “change raising.”

This practice was why all cashiers were banned from making change beyond the original transaction when I worked fast food. You gave them their change and if they tried to carry it any further you had to shut the till and call for a manager to make the transaction.

Really? You would want her to be teaching her kids to scam at your expense? Christmas or not, this isn’t the same as stealing a loaf of bread to feed her hungry children.
It takes forethought and practice, not just desperation.

I got hit with that one when I worked at a grocery store in high school. I knew it right away, called a manager, explained to them (probably dissolved into tears, can’t recall, but its certainly like me), I remember that they pulled me off the register, switched out the drawers and checked it out. Sure enough - I was off by $20. but they started with a $100 and were quite chatty and friendly and it happens so quick.

Advised to be careful next time, put me back on a register, and I never had that problem again. And now I don’t work retail, so I don’t have to worry about it.

I got that once when I worked as a cashier at a movie theatre. When the guy walked out the door, it struck me what he had just done. I felt like an idiot. The manager was very understanding, though.

At the end of thisone he explains the steps that happened.

I got scammed like that once. I owned a hotel. Three guys in town for a convention paid $10 each for a $30 hotel room. My clerk forgot to give them their discount, so he sent the bellman up with $5. Sneaky bellman pocketed $2 and gave the men $1 each. Bastards stole every towel in the room.

This happened to my daughter when she was in high school. The man got away with a larger sum, $100 if I recall correctly. My daughter was very upset and angry after she figured out what happened. The manager did not make her repay the till, thank goodness. That was about a week’s worth of wages for her at the time.

I see what you did there… :smiley:

I’ve had others try this, but I am pretty careful and I always double count money. I feel like a fool for falling for it, but I think it was the kids that were distracting me. They were so happy about Christmas and so cute, that I was not paying as close attention as I should have.

At least that’s how I think it happend, as I said, I’ve had people try this before and they never got away with it.

In this store you use so much cash. I can’t believe how many people pay cash. I thought, “Ok a computer store, great everyone will pay credit/debit.” Last night when, I got scammed I did just under $6,000 in cash sales. (My biggest day was $14,000 cash alone).

It’s unbelieveable when someone comes in and hands me $2,200 cash for a laptop all in twenties.

I’m not excusing myself, as I should’ve known better than to get distracted, but “oh well, I guess I learned a lesson.”

On last Errrrrrrrrrrrrr :slight_smile: