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Family-run toy shop swindled by fraudsters with fake £50 notes

PUBLISHED: 11:13 27 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:47 27 November 2018

Richard Harding outside Puff's Toy Shop in Wymondham, where fraudsters stole £200. Photo: Richard Harding

Richard Harding outside Puff's Toy Shop in Wymondham, where fraudsters stole £200. Photo: Richard Harding

Richard Harding

Owners of a family-run toy shop were left “gutted” after fraudsters used fake bank notes to steal hundreds of pounds.

The conmen targeted Puff’s Toy Shop in Wymondham on Saturday afternoon while owner Richard Harding’s teenage stepson was looking after the shop.

Seventeen-year-old Toby Alexander was alone in the family-run shop on Market Place when fraudsters pressured him into exchanging £200-worth of change for fake £50 notes.

Mr Harding, from Wymondham, said the teenager was very upset but the family had assured him he was not to blame for the incident.

Toby reported that an older man entered the shop around 1.15pm and bought an item with what later emerged to be a counterfeit £50 note.

Shortly after, two younger men did the same, but when they saw the change jar they convinced the teenager to swap the fake notes for real cash.

The sixth form student checked the notes with a counterfeit detector pen, but due to a treatment applied to the surface it did not flag them as fakes.

Mr Harding said the £200 represented a significant chunk of the small shop’s weekly earnings and that the company was already struggling to survive in the harsh high street climate.

He said: “It’s not a nice thing to have happened and Toby was very upset.

“These people are very good at talking you into things and making you feel pressured, it wasn’t fair.

“If only these thieves knew how hard it was to even make £200 profit. We’re gutted.”

Puff’s Toyshop opened in Wymondham in 2013 and is much loved in the town.

A day after the shop announced the theft on Facebook, a gofundme page was launched to help “right the wrong” by reimbursing the stolen money.

Wymondham resident Wendy Mason wrote on the page: “I’m disgusted that people can be so cruel to a caring friendly independent business.

“I want us to try and right wrong by asking their friends and customers to help support them and return the money back for them.”

So far £160 of the £200 goal has been raised.

Mr Harding said that despite the upsetting incident, his faith in people had not been shaken and he was grateful to be surrounded by lovely people.

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