Car boot traders are on alert after a ‘very organised’ gang targeted sellers using fake £20 notes.
A group of men and women tried to use counterfeit cash to pay for goods at a busy car boot sale at Aston Down near Stroud.
Organiser Frank Tunbridge described the group as very organised and said traders are concerned about a gang targeting car boot sales in the area.
He said: “The word among the sellers is that it is a gang of Eastern Europeans that go around car boot sales in the south west.
“One of the traders goes to one in Bristol and it happens weekly down there.
“It was a very organised gang with one man waiting in a car along the road. It was all worked out before hand.”
The illegal tender was used by a young girl to purchase a £1 item at the sale on Sunday. The seller became suspicious and challenged the girl but she grabbed the note back and ran away.
Later, a similar incident happened with another young woman, who was this time challenged by Mr Tunbridge.
He tried to detain her but she ran away and left along with the other girl and two men in a dark-coloured Ford Galaxy car. He said: “Word got around and two other sellers were also handed fake notes.”
A year ago almost to the day, Gloucestershire police urged traders around the county to be vigilant after an influx of counterfeit £20 notes.
It’s believed the Aston Down incident has not so far been replicated anywhere else in Gloucestershire, but officers urged traders to check cash carefully.
Car boot sellers can be seen as more vulnerable to such scams because they often have not had the training to spot forged cash.
Shane Maneley, organiser of Hempsted Meadows car boot sale, said he was not aware of fake money being used at his event but that it is a notorious scam in other parts of the country.
He said: “We are always on the look out.”
Gloucestershire police senior harm reduction advisor, Dave McFarlane, added: “If you are a trader always check the notes carefully for colour, clarity of print and the feel and texture.
“It might be worthwhile investing in a counterfeit pen detector.”
Mr Tunbridge said: “We don’t want this to put people off.”
A police spokesman said counterfeit money is highly likely to pass through the county regularly and that incidents tend to happen in spikes around large events like Cheltenham Races.
Mark Owen, chairman of the Gloucester branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, said fake money is a concern for all businesses, not just car boot traders.
He said: “It can seriously impact small companies if it has a negative impact on their cash flow.”
Anyone with information about the incident at Aston Down should contact police on 101 quoting incident 121 of May 25.
Follow these simple steps to check if your £20 banknotes are genuine.
Check the paper and the raised print
Run your finger across the front of the note to feel raised areas such as the words
Bank of England.
Check the metallic thread