A group of mums accused of scamming a score of Brisbane restaurants may have now cropped up on the Gold Coast, Australia.
The owner of a grocery store has claimed the "attractive" women pilfered at least A$100 (NZ$107) worth of groceries. He also said that, far from being cash strapped, one of the women had "wads of A$50 [NZ$54] notes in their bra".
The brazen alleged theft from a supermarket in Chevron Island, close to Surfers Paradise, has been linked to the marauding mums who are said to have scammed hundreds of dollars of food and wine from restaurants and cafes "trashing" premises in the process.
The "boisterous" posse, often with kids in tow, have also been linked to the theft of expensive heels from a luxury goods store.
Police are looking into whether the group, all with broad Irish accents, is connected to a man who was arrested recently accused of similar scams who later failed to show at court. Channel 7 said the man had a history of fraud in Ireland.
CCTV footage from the Spar supermarket on Chevron Island appears to show a group of women browsing the aisles. But rather than food going into the basket it is dropped into large handbags.
One woman, with dyed blonde hair and wearing a red summer dress, can be seen returning items to the basket apparently when a staff member is seen closing in. However, it seems, not all the products were paid for.
The owner of the store, identified as Nash, told Brisbane radio station Hit 105's Stav, Abby and Matt that he instantly suspected all was not right when he entered the store as he encountered similar stings, with Irish accented groups, when he lived in the UK.
"I knew something was up when these ladies came in and one gentleman was outside in the Ute.
"I went running to the front to watch him and the they were just filling their bags up and really getting lot of baskets and groceries," said Nash.
Yet when they came to pay there was very little in their baskets.
"They basically said this is all I've got. I said 'I need to see you bags' and I saw all this other stuff in there and she said, 'I'll pay for all this separately."
Nonetheless, the Spar owner said the women managed to snaffle away A$100 (NZ$107)of produce plus eight trays of beef.
"They were attractive girls wearing designer stuff. One of them had a wads of A$50 [NZ$54] notes in her bra, 20 or 30 of them, and the other one was spreading A$50 [NZ$54] notes over the counter while she was paying me."
Nash told Hit 105 they group seemingly had no concerns about not paying. "They had money but they just wanted to do this."
He was concerned small store owners were powerless as they were outnumbered: "If one of the girls get into trouble, the other girls will gang up and then the boy will come up and someone could end up in big trouble."
On Thursday, Queensland Police told news.com.au that they suspected far more businesses than had previously come forward had been affected by the alleged scammers who, it's claimed, have netted free feeds, alcohol and cigarettes.
The pilfering posse reportedly "ran amok" in restaurants and cafes as part of the ploy to get staff, at the end of their tethers, to let them off the bill.
In one case, they have also been accused of placing glass in a meal and then demanding a refund.
It's thought at least six businesses in Brisbane's CBD and nearby suburbs of Spring Hill and Fortitude Valley have been targeted by the gang over the last week.
In an angry Facebook post on Monday, Marie Yokoyama from Bird's Nest restaurant in Fortitude Valley explained how the women had set about to get a free feed.
"They are a group of about seven — four children and three ladies — and they are unbelievably rude. They came in and totally destroyed the restaurant.
"Halfway through the meal one lady started screaming that there was glass in her meal and that her mouth was bleeding. I believed her and then asked to see the glass.
"Upon inspection I knew that this had not come from our restaurant but they were relentless.
"I was so scared and terrified of them that I made their meals and drinks free — around A$180 [NZ$193] (in) value."
Luke Purnell, a member of staff at nearby The Rattler pub, said he helped to remove the cursing crowd.
"They were running amok trashing the place, complaining of glass in the food."
"They were very boisterous, very drunk, you could tell they'd been at it all day."
It appears the incident was not a one-off with pubs and coffee shops also saying they had come across a similar group of women with Irish accents accompanied by misbehaving children.
In Fortitude Valley and the CBD, three pubs are said to have been targeted. A staff member at one of those venues, Mick O'Malley's, told news.com.au he suspected the group had visited recently.
"I did have a group of Irish women in here with thick accents and I had to approach them as their kids were going bonkers." But he said they did end up paying for their meals.
A Chanel store has also had some shoes stolen. A similar group of women were in the store around the time of the alleged robbery.
Queensland Police confirmed to news.com.au they had received several reports of a group causing a ruckus in venues close to the CBD.
"We are aware and are following up inquiries. We are looking at other possible similar offences of that same nature.
"Any business owners with patrons refusing to leave the premise or if they have safety concerns should contact police immediately," a spokesman said.