You can call this once bitten, twice shy, says Jignesh Patel who runs Shreeji in London’s Kentish Town.
 
A big, nicely dressed, softly spoken guy came into his store during a busy period and cashed in some scratchcards. While this process was taking place he walked around the store picking up purchases. He put his keys and wallet on the counter (a confident and reassuring move) and then wanted to purchase some more scratchcards. Six packs of £5 scratchcards. 

Jignesh suddenly twigged. It was the same bloke who duped him last summer. On that occasion the ‘customer’ only had a pin-free cash card on him and asked if there was a hole-in-the-wall nearby. He went off leaving the bag on the counter and only then did Jignesh discover that the Scratchcards weren’t with the rest of the goods (because these were pocketed while he turned to get the cigarettes requested). 

The ‘customer’ had chosen a busy time – it was 3.30pm and the store was full of schoolkids – and by chance an accident happened outside, so there were distractions. The only clue…‘customer’ was in a hurry, having parked on a yellow line. 

This time he was claiming to have just moved in upstairs, but it was less busy by the time the scratchcards had been processed and the guy had finished his shopping. 

“I said ‘Pay for them first’. He used a Mastercard, which was blocked, and I knew 100% then it was him.

” Before he could pull the hole-in-the-wall stunt again Jignesh looked him in the eye and said: “You’ve done this to me before. If you come in here again I’ll call the police. He didn’t deny it.” 

Odd that neither realised initially that this was a replay of the original scenario. But then, Jignesh sees thousands of faces a month and the ‘customer’ is obviously pulling this scam a-plenty.