Warning following distraction thefts of mobile phones
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We are warning people to stay on their guard following a number of smart phone thefts by a fraudster with what has been described as an Italian accent posing as a tradesman or asking for directions.
Incidents have been reported across the county, including Cranleigh, Hersham, Godalming, Chertsey, Woking and Egham.
Staff at an office building in Godalming and a bathroom showroom in Chertsey were duped by a man with an Italian accent claiming to be a painter/decorator. It was only after he left that they realised he had taken their phones with him.
On another occasion, the victim was approached in the car park behind Sainsbury’s supermarket in Cranleigh by a man asking him if he knew the way to Gatwick Airport. The man claimed he was an Italian businessman and was in the UK selling cashmere and leather coats. The man asked the victim if he wanted to buy any coats and offered to go to the cashpoint with the victim to get some money out. The victim refused and walked away.
Other incidents include:
- A man targeted staff at an address in Woking on 13 November, claiming not to speak English and asking to help him with a translation. After he left, they realised he had taken a mobile phone.
- A man posing as a window cleaner stole two mobile phones after distracting staff at a store in Hersham on 7 November. The man was described as Italian, 5ft 7 tall, of a slim build with brown hair and wearing a flat cap, and was driving a silver Ford Focus.
- A man speaking Italian stole £50 in cash after distracting a woman in Addlestone by asking for directions. He was described as of Mediterranean appearance, 5ft 8 tall, of a slim build, with dark hair and stubble and wearing dark clothing.
- A woman was in Waitrose in Egham on 20 October when she was approached by a man asking her questions about fruit. After he left, she realised her purse, containing cards and cash, had been stole. The man had a foreign accent and was in his late 30s.
If you suspect you’ve been scammed, defrauded or experienced cybercrime, please report online to Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime
The Action Fraud team can also provide the help, support and advice you need. Alternatively, you can call them on 0300 123 2040.
To find out more about the different types of fraud and how you can protect yourself, visit our web site https://www.surrey.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/