CHRISTMAS shoppers have been fleeced for hundreds of pounds after falling victim to a cruel con.

Police are particularly warning elderly shoppers to be on their guard after four people were targeted by the callous gang.

While shopping in supermarkets Hampshire the victims were approached by a man who tried to give them money – often a £20 note – claiming that they had dropped it.

Although all four people turned the money down, they were distracted long enough to have their bank cards stolen from their bags.

Subsequently large amounts of cash have been withdrawn from their accounts as police believe the thieves must have targeted their victims after watching them at checkouts.

PC Carolyn Bulpit, said: “It appears that on each occasion the offender has some how managed to obtain the PIN of the stolen cards, possibly by watching the victims at the checkouts before distracting them and taking their cards.”

Cover your PIN PC Bulpit said it was important people were aware of the scam and urged shoppers not to engage in conversation with people who approach them.

She said:“I would advise shoppers to always cover their PIN completely when entering it and to place their bank cards in a secure location, preferably inside a wallet or purse which is then zipped or fastened and placed inside another bag or zipped pocket.

“If anyone is approached by someone using a similar technique do not engage in conversation with them or allow them to get close to your personal belongings. Please ensure you stay vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately.”

The victims were targeted whilst shopping in supermarkets Tesco at Winnall, Sainsburys in Winchester and at Morrisons in Totton.

According to police each victim has had up to £600 stolen from their bank accounts, as a result of several fraudulent transactions.