Police have launched a probe after five shops across the north-east were targeted by fraudsters.
The conmen targeted corner shops and a post office in Ellon, Oldmeldrum, Elgin, Tarland and Torphins during the spree between last Thursday and Saturday.
Last night, police confirmed they had used the sophisticated ‘ringing the changes’ distraction technique.
During the latest incidents, two men entered a shop and asked the staff to exchange a large number of notes from one denomination to another.
The staff were thereafter distracted or deliberately confused, enabling the men to obtain sums of money.
Sergeant Keith Greig, from the Banchory community policing team, said: “We are keen to trace the two men involved.
“They are described as being Mediterranean in appearance, aged in their late 20s or early 30s and have spoken in broken English.
“In one incident, one of the males identified he was from Romania.
“Business owners and their staff should be alert and aware to this type of scam.
“Watch out for people requesting a large sum of money to be exchanged. It is possible they will target busy periods of the working day, providing an opportunity to confuse or distract staff.
“If you are in any doubt of a person’s intentions, consider asking another colleague for assistance or politely decline the request and notify the police.”
Anyone with information should call 101 quoting reference number 2236 of February 2.