Police warning about ‘white van scam’

November 2, 2015 | By More

Police logo-04Canterbury Police have received reports from the people who have been approached by two young men in a van trying to sell them cheap home theatre systems. 

“Police understand that members of the public have been approached in car parks, at malls, service stations and KFC .  However we have also had reports that they have been door knocking with the occupants of the van offering cheap home theatre systems for sale.  Last week we received a report of this type of approach being made at The Palms shopping mall,” explained Detective Senior Sergeant Anderson.

“This has all the same hallmarks of what was happening in Auckland and Hamilton earlier in the year where members of the public were approached in car parks and offered home theatre systems.  The sellers told potential buyers that the systems were worth far in excess of what they were selling them for, offering the explanation that they had overstocked and had to get rid of the goods.”

When buyers got them home they realised that the goods were not as described and were cheap non branded imitation goods with no serial number and the warranty provided was worthless.

“White van scams” is an international scam that has been operating for years.

Typically the way the scam works is that a company imports various products like phones, speakers and home entertainment systems from overseas at a very cheap prices.  They then engage local sales people to sell the goods in various city car parks from the back of vans.  The sales people are told the bottom line sales price and that anything they get over and above that figure is theirs.

The common sales patter is that they work for a retailer who is overstocked and are trying to off load the stock quickly at a significantly reduced price before their boss finds out they have over ordered.  Often customers are given a receipt and warranty, but when they try to get their money back they find they are dealing with unknown overseas companies.

“This scam relies on members of the public thinking they are getting a bargain” explained Detective Senior Sergeant Anderson.  “On face value it is not a criminal matter, and the principle of ‘buyer beware’ applies.”

“Police urge members of the public to take care and remember the old adage of ‘if it’s too good to true, it normally is’.  Buy from reputable companies and never feel pressured into making a purchase without carrying out a bit of research.  A genuine seller will not be offended by this and some actually encourage it.”

Police regard this is a timely reminder of the importance of reporting scams and suspicious behaviour to Police as soon as possible.  People’s actions could stop someone else becoming a victim in the lead up to Christmas and New Year.

Information can be provided by calling the Crime Reporting Line on 03 363 7400 or anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Category: Police Watch

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