BUSINESSES in Troon, Prestwick and Ayr are being scammed by a woman trying to refund products she has stolen from their shop.

At least 10 businesses claim to have fallen victim to these tricks and are accusing a lady of bringing back stolen goods who claims to have cancer, in a bid to get cash.

It is understood the fraudulent activity has been taking place for at least one week, as no receipt is ever produced, but shop owners only realised what was happening over the weekend.

A spokesperson from Troon Business Association, said: "The penny finally dropped on Saturday night after a local business on Ayr's Church Street was targeted.

"The owner informed us through social media and that is how we realised it had happened more than just once. 

"The woman responsible for the scam is described as being in her 40s or 50s and has dark hair. I was told that on Saturday she was wearing a white coat with a green berret. Sometimes she wears glasses.

"When she comes back she tells a story about having cancer and I think this is what persuades staff to give her the money.

"It is very prolific and it's not just local businesses she has targeted but chain stores too. This has all come about in the last week. Clearly noone pieced the information together and noone realised a crime was being committed.

"We don't know if this woman has cancer but we can learn from this experience and communicate with one another to make sure this is a one off."

Police have confirmed an allegation has been made and enquiries are continuing.

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland, said: "We have been made aware of a number of allegations of this matter. Enquiries are at an early stage and officers are speaking to those affected this morning. [Monday, March 13]

If anyone has any information they can contact police on 101. Alternatively they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be maintained.