A BIZARRE scam in which a thief kisses and hugs her unsuspecting victims has swept across the county.

More victims have come forward to report a woman, who has been stealing cash from people in town centres while pretending to be collecting for a charity for the deaf and blind.

It is not yet clear if it is just one woman or several different women who have been carrying out the distraction thefts, but similar attempts have been reported recently in Wantage, Didcot, Wallingford, Abingdon and Witney.

The Oxford Mail reported on the scam last week, after a woman stole £250 from a man who donated to her outside Sainsbury's in Wantage.

READ AGAIN: 'Deaf charity' distraction theft at Sainsbury's

He gave her £5 and, when she hugged him in an apparent show of her gratitude, she used the contact to swipe the cash from his wallet.

Following the report, one reader called to say that the same thing had happened to her outside Waitrose in Witney, also of someone claiming to be collecting for a deaf charity.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: "I opened my wallet and said 'I'm not giving you £10', so I gave her all my change, about 90p.

"I thought it was very strange because she gave me a kiss. It startled me, then she walked away."

"I couldn't believe it when I read about it happening in Wantage - the cheek of it."

She said she had closed her wallet immediately after handing over the coins, at about 12.30pm on October 30, and nothing was stolen.

In both Wantage and Witney, the people targeted were standing in the disabled parking area.

Another Oxford Mail reader, also responding to the initial article, said her husband had been targeted in Abingdon town centre.

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The woman, who also asked not to be named, said: "She was collecting for the deaf and blind and seemed not to be able to communicate - 'please' was the only word she uttered.

"She had a clipboard but no collecting tin, which would have made me suspicious.

"My husband, not wishing to be unkind, gave her a small donation."

Although the woman did not attempt physical contact, she said she 'blew him kisses' afterwards.

She said she was also collecting names and addresses on the clipboard, which had the logo of a charity on.

On Saturday, another member of the public reported that two young women were operating at the Orchard Centre in Didcot.

They were fraudulently collecting donations on behalf of the Oxford Deaf and Hard of Hearing Centre, which is a legitimate charity.

Peter Ryan, who manages the charity, confirmed that the organisation does not have anyone on the street collecting donations.

He said: "I would advise the public to be vigilant when donating money to fundraisers on the street.

"It is important to note that genuine charity representatives and volunteers will have no objection to proving their identity when asked, along with the appropriate documentation and contact information for the organisation they are collecting for."

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Mr Ryan said he heard of similar reports earlier this year, of two young women carrying out the same operation in Oxford city centre.

He said the women were seen holding clipboards with a disability logo on a pad of paper, and that police advised people to report them immediately if seen.

Commenting on our website last week, one reader said: "I've seen this fraud take advantage of people in Oxford.

"Tried asking me for a donation by using the same tricks (pretending to be deaf, blowing kisses, trying to make you feel guilty) but I quickly realised there was NO CHARITY anywhere on her list of donations or clip board and it was quite clearly a scam."

Another added: "I have also seen this lady doing this.

"She normally stands right outside where I work and if she hears sirens or sees police, she slips the clipboard into her side bag and disappears.

"It's utterly disgusting."

Police issued a warning last month about a woman, pretending to be from a deaf charity, carrying out distraction thefts in South Oxfordshire.

She was described as a slim woman in her 20s with dark hair, who spoke with an Eastern European accent.