​Police Warn Of ‘Under-Reported’ Hugging Scam In UK

Police in Sussex had issued a warning to locals to be vigilant of a 'hugging scam', which involves someone cuddling a victim in order to steal their possessions.

The advice follows the news of an elderly woman getting her purse stolen from outside of a supermarket in Chichester.

According to the Sussex Police website, the 88-year-old victim was approached by an unknown woman as she got out of a taxi outside Waitrose in Via Ravenna.

The pensioner was then hugged by the stranger, who told her: "Welcome to Waitrose."

In doing so, the woman stole her purse, which contained cash and cards.

Following investigations, police found the stolen cards were attempted to be used at a nearby Tesco Extra in Fishbourne Road East. However, the attempts were unsuccessful.

The stolen cards were unsucessfully used nearby. Credit: Sussex Police
The stolen cards were unsucessfully used nearby. Credit: Sussex Police

"The incident occurred around 2.10pm on Saturday 23 February, and police believe it may be linked to an organised crime group," Sussex Police said.

"It is also possible other similar incidents have occurred which have not been reported."

Sussex Police also tweeted screenshots from CCTV footage of the suspect who approached the elderly woman, writing: "This is a scam which we believe may be under-reported. Help us to raise awareness by informing your friends, family and carers of the elderly."

Social media users commented to say what happened to the victim was 'heartbreaking'.

"The lowest of the low," one person said.

"So foul to do this," a second added.

The images were also shared on Facebook, where one person advised: "I had personal safety training with my work and we were told to stay at the checkout & put your purse away.

"I always made my Mum put her purse away as she was walking away with cash & purse in her hand. Don't make yourself a victim."

Police have urged anyone who recognises the woman in the images to come forward, also saying to get in touch if you've been a victim of a scam like this.

To do so, you can report it online or call 101, quoting serial 126 of 27/02.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

Next Up

arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up camera clock close comment cursor email facebook-messenger facebook Instagram link new-window phone play share snapchat submit twitter vine whatsapp logoInline safari-pinned-tab Created by potrace 1.11, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2013