Green’s Dictionary of Slang

short-change artist n.

also fast-change artist, quick-change artist, short-change boy, short-change man

(US Und.) one who defrauds shopkeepers of small amounts of money via sleight of hand and distraction; also attrib.

Hagerstown Exponent (IN) 7 Aug. 1/6: [headline] How the Unsuspicious are Swindled. The ‘Short Change’ Man and How He Operates.
[US]B.T. Harvey ‘Addenda – The Northwest’ in DN IV:ii 164: short change artist, n. Applied to ticket sellers, clerks, etc.
[US]J. Callahan Man’s Grim Justice 4: He was known as one of the best short-change artists that ever stood behind a bar.
[US]Stanberry Headlight (MS) 15 Aug. 1/4: Two experienced short-change artists had walked from his store with $10 of the store money [Ibid.] The short change boys started ‘operations’ at Smith’s cafe.
Belleville Telescope (KS) 17 Mar. 1/6: One of two short-change artists [...] ‘worked’ in Belleville. Green attempted to tell [the judge] that he had not done anything like his short-change ‘scam’ before.
Belleville Telescope (KS) 17 Mar. 1/4: Police cautruon Businesses to Watch for ‘Fast Change’ Artists. ‘Quick change’ artists have been operating in the belleville area.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 103: The barkers, pimps and fast-change artists who controlled the legislature.
[US](con. 1940s–60s) Décharné Straight from the Fridge Dad 26: Cake cutter Short-change artist, swindler.