LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It only takes a few seconds these days for a thief to steal thousands of dollars.
“More often than not they are distracting that cashier enough that they either walk away from their register or go seek help for a question they can’t answer,” said Robyn Householder, CEO and President of the Better Business Bureau of Middle Tennessee. “Then that’s when this scammer has somehow accessed the codes to get those cash registers to open.”
It’s called the ‘Cash Cash Scam’ which recently happened at the Walmart in La Vergne.
Police shared photos of three people who they say participated in that scam last month, stealing over $10,000 worth of merchandise and gift cards.
“This is a scam that has historically happened around the holidays because stores are busy,” said Householder.
According to Householder, this scam is popular across big box retailers like Walmart for a multitude of reasons.
“They have a lot of self checkouts which means that those few cashiers that are working in stores are probably busier this time of year than they’ve ever been before, and so it’s going to be easier to distract them,” she said.
This is one of the many fraud related crimes Kathy Stokes, Director of Fraud Prevention Programs for AARP has heard of, too.
“I think any form of any semi organized crime that’s retail oriented is going to hit the big retailers, and Walmart’s the biggest, right?” she said.
Tools like AARP’s fraud alert map help agents inform people across the country of scams happening in their area.
“We’ve had over 100,000 calls this year, so we kind of see it,” said Stokes. “Even if it’s just a few calls but it’s a new twist, we’re like, ‘Okay, this is what we’re going to see next.'”
While police continue to search for this group of thieves, Householder hopes businesses will stay alert as she anticipates more scams happening this holiday season.
“For the cashier, it’s just like any other shopping scam,” she said. “It’s about slowing down, (and) about really staying alert.”
Householder said when it comes to this scam, thieves are stealing gift cards where many haven’t been activated, so they are having a hard time tracking data to determine how it benefits the thieves.
You can learn more about holiday scams for this year here.