Crouch End shop caught in sophisticated fraud

A Crouch End shop keeper has been left shaken by a “calculated and sinister” scam which took place in her family-owned shop.

The fraud happened at Muddy Boots, a butchers on Broadway Parade in Crouch End, while the shop was being looked after by one shop assistant.

A man entered the shop and said that he was delivering shelves that the shop had ordered. He said that he had parked around the corner and would fetch the shelves, but that there was a balance of £85 to pay.

The man knew the 18-year-old shop assistant’s name and he picked a time when she would be alone, and the other shop assistant was on a break.

When the shop assistant hesitated about handing over the money, the man pretended to call the shop owner and get her permission.

It was only when the man left the shop, having taken the money, that the shop assistant realised what had happened.

Mrs Ballard, 33, who owns the shop with her husband, said that the most disturbing part of the scam was the sophisticated way it had been carried out.

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The man was “confident, friendly and amiable” and he knew the shop owner’s name, the shop assistant’s name, and when the shop assistant would be alone.

Mrs Ballard has reported the scam to the police and images of the man were caught on the shop’s CCTV. She described how the man was about 50, with a leather jacket, and slightly balding at the back.

He had a distinctive “Hollywood” tattoo on his neck and the front of his collar bone.

Having opened her shop just 18 months ago, Mrs Ballard is still confident in the area and believes that scammers are a “tiny minority.”

A City of London Police spokesman said: “This report was made on the 19 October to Action Fraud and is currently being assessed by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.”