February 7, 2012
Vulnerable Whitehorse residents have lost nearly $200,000 to con artists since October, according to Whitehorse Criminal Investigations Unit.
Police are investigating three cases where vulnerable people have been swindled with fake gold nuggets, ink-covered money or by phoney government officials.
A 52-year-old Box Hill acupuncture practitioner gave $49,000 in exchange for 70 fake gold nuggets on December 29, Leading Detective Senior Constable Simon Cusack said.
Mr Cusack said the victim was show shavings of real gold and told it cam from a pot of gold found at a building site.
The victim had the shaving tested and paid $49,000 for 70 gold nuggets he believed were real.
The victim reported the incident to police on January 9. Police tests found the nuggets were made of copper and zinc that had been painted gold. Police are seeking two Chinese men aged in their early 30s over the incident.
In a separate scam, an 81 year-old Mitcham woman gave more than $70,000 to people who called her posing as overseas telemarketers working for the Department of Consumer Affairs, Detective Senior Constable John O’Dwyer said.
The victim gave more than $900 of her own money and $70,000 she agreed to collect from other victims over a 12-month period, Mr O’Dwyer said. He said the scam was uncovered after the woman tried to deposit a $9000 cheque into a foreign bank account on January 23.
In a third case, a 75-year-old man gave $70,000 in exchange for a share in what he believed was a suitcase of ink-covered money work $6 million US.
The men involved told the victim they needed money to buy a chemical to clean the money. The victim reported the incident to police in October.
Mr Cusack added: “It is apparent that when things seem too good to be true, they are.”
SOURCE: Fairfax Media (printed magazine)
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