A MAN is believed to be targeting small businesses in Eastwood using fake £50 notes.

A business owner, who did not want to be named, said: “He came in acting shifty while we were in here, so we twigged that first.

“He only bought a a couple of drinks which he paid for with a £50 note, then left.

“He didn’t hang about, I’ve never seen someone leave so fast.”

Luckily, having not yet realised they had been duped, neighbouring business owner, Kelly Langton, 39, who owns independent retail fashion shop, Bow Blush, in Rayleigh Road, was able to alert them after spotting the man on her CCTV running out of their store following the scam.

Kelly checked the footage after the suspected scammer had acted suspiciously when he came in to Bow Blush looking for hair bows.

Slightly bemused over the unusual customer who was looking to buy hair accessories, alarm bells instantly went off for Kelly.

She said: “He came in looking for hair bows, and tried to pay with a £50 note.

“As soon as I saw the £50 I knew, and just told him ‘sorry I can’t change that’.

“He said he would go and get change and come back, so I thought that’s fair enough, but then he didn’t come back.

“That’s when I thought it was a dodgy £50. I checked my CCTV and then saw him running out of the other shop so I went in to tell them and they checked the note he’d given them – it wasn’t real.

“I felt so sorry for them – we all work so hard along here.”

The unnamed victim added: “I was a bit shocked at first – you don’t really expect it.

“It happened towards the end of a slow day as well, it’s just not nice.

“We just want to warn others now so he doesn’t do this to anyone else.”

Police are investigating the matter.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Officers are investigating reports that counterfeit currency was used to purchase goods from a shop on Rayleigh Road, Leigh around 4.30pm on Tuesday, February 21. Enquiries are ongoing.”