Gore pensioner almost loses $20,000 to scam

Apt title . . . The book Sea of Greed was used to hide cash, in a scam that nearly caught out a Gore man. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A Gore pensioner lost and was then reunited with $20,000, thanks to the quick thinking of police at both ends of the country.
The man turned up at Gore police station on October 17 after being conned by a scammer pretending to be an overseas-based detective, who talked of a conspiracy between Gore police and a local bank.
Sergeant Eric Browne said he immediately knew the man had been the victim of a scam.
The scam occurred on October 13, but the man was initially hesitant to come to the police due to an illness in the family and his doubts about the police, Sgt Browne said.
‘‘Although he felt like something was wrong, the scammer had put doubt in his mind about local authorities and people conspiring against him.’’
The pensioner described the scammer as having a ‘‘Kiwi accent’’.
The scammer claimed to be a police officer investigating counterfeit currency being produced by the man’s bank.
He then asked the man to read out the serial numbers of cash he had.
The scammer immediately told him they were fake and he would need him to withdraw a large amount of cash, hide the money within the pages of books and courier them to a London address for further investigation.
The man revealed he had packaged up two novels with $20,000 between the pages and couriered them the previous day.
‘‘We had to act fast, so I immediately got his tracking number,’’ Sgt Browne said.
He discovered the package would be going out through Auckland International Airport and the International Mail Centre, so he contacted the head of the centre, a former detective, who got straight on to the search.
They narrowed the focus down to three London-bound cargo crates.
‘‘The first two had been loaded on already and with a last-ditch search in the third crate, this man’s package was found right at the very bottom,’’ Sgt Browne said.
As a result, the pensioner was reunited with his money.
‘‘It’s a good win for the community because it’s not often the case,’’ Sgt Browne said.
‘‘It’s always nice to have a win.
‘‘I think a large part of it was on the victim for being proactive about it.’’
People who received phone calls pushing similar scams should contact police.
‘‘Call 105 or come down to the local police station.
‘‘Even if you’re not sure you’ve been scammed, if you’ve got a gut feeling, you should come down.
‘‘You just never know.’’
A government agency or utility company would never ask for personal details over the phone, he said.