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Sweet William florist in Headcorn is hit by fraudsters

An independent florist has been left £800 out of pocket after fraudsters targetted the Headcorn shop.

Owner Julia Archer was on her own in Sweet William when the pair struck on October 9 and nearly two weeks later, she is still waiting to get the money back.

Julia Archer, at Sweet William Picture: Tim Grimes
Julia Archer, at Sweet William Picture: Tim Grimes

Mrs Archer, a mum-of-three young children, said: "I kept thinking how much food shopping I could buy for £800 and all the presents I could buy for my kids for Christmas.

"Especially as we have lost so much business as it is, I certainly can't afford to lose that money."

Mrs Archer, who has owned the Foreman's walk shop for 22 years, has lost out on numerous wedding and funeral orders due to coronavirus restrictions.

She believes the two men had been waiting for a worker to be on their own, as within a minute of her colleague leaving for her lunch break, they walked in.

The rule of only two customers in at a time, to adhere to social distancing, meant they could carry out their scheme uninterrupted.

Sweet William was targeted by fraudsters Picture: Google
Sweet William was targeted by fraudsters Picture: Google

The pair bought £82.95 worth of bouquets to the till and Mrs Archer typed in the amount and handed over the card machine to one of the men, for him to punch the pin in.

Having examined her CCTV closely, she believes he quickly changed the amount to £800 and didn't put his card far enough into the machine, for it to register.

This meant he was able to type in a different a number for a credit card, which Mrs Archer believes could have been stolen, which was charged the huge amount.

Throughout, the other man was distracting Mrs Archer with questions.

When the receipt came out, she suspected foul play.

"He was calm about it and said 'just refund', I knew there was something not right about.

"It was on the tip of my tongue to say I don't have the authorisation key but you don't know if they are going to hold a knife to you or do something to you."

She authorised the refund to a different debit card, and the culprits even helped her with her bags as they left.

"They hadn't a clue I had an inkling about it, they went and had a coffee next door," Mrs Archer said.

Mrs Archer reported what had happened to her bank straight away and she will be reimbursed. She is hoping to get the money this week.

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