A GANG of con artists posing as police officers is targeting foreign tourists in the city centre by asking to check their wallets for counterfeit notes before stealing cash.
The trio of fraudsters has struck at least three times in the last week, fleecing unsuspecting holidaymakers in Princes Street, St Andrew Square and Johnston Terrace.
During each sting, a man pretending to be a fellow visitor starts a conversation with a tourist before two more men pretending to be plain-clothed officers approach them.
The fake officers, who show no ID, ask to see passports and money under the pretext of looking for counterfeit bank notes, even sniffing the cash as part of the ruse.
After their co-conspirator willingly surrenders his possessions for examination, the tourists have also complied with the demand. With sleight of hand, the fraudsters are able to steal money from the victims’ wallets.
Detective Sergeant Willie Falconer, who is leading the investigation, said the con team carried out the theft “so quickly” that the tourists were unaware they had been robbed until the suspects vanished.
Police issued a warning to holidaymakers and members of the public to be on their guard against the new scam.
DS Falconer, who is based at Gayfield police station, said: “All of the incidents are alike and there is clearly a group of thieves using the same tactic to try and make off with cash from unsuspecting tourists.”
In a theft in St Andrew Square on Thursday, a woman was approached by a “Mediterranean/dark European-looking” man posing as a fellow tourist. They were soon approached by two men of Asian appearance presenting to be officers.
After handing over her wallet for inspection and the three men having left, she discovered £140 was missing.
DS Falconer added: “These crimes are being carried out so quickly that the victims are being duped into thinking the cash is still in their wallets or purses. We take the crimes very seriously.”