An 82-year-old woman believes a trio of the unruly tourists scammed her out of nearly $ 9,000, claiming they would fix her roof but left a hole in her ceiling.
Greenlane resident Heidrun Leonard said the tradesmen knocked on her door on January 4, saying they had noticed from the street there was a leak in her roof that needed repairs.
The man – who was with two other guys – told Leonard they would not only fix the tiles on her roof but also install two dehumidifiers inside her home.
However, they needed upfront money to do so.
"You have to give us $ 8800, and once we have done the job, you will get the $ 8800 back," Leonard told the men told her.
She wrote the check they then cashed at the bank.
The next morning they came back to her house and cut a rectangular hole in her ceiling, before fleeing when Leonard's neighbor came and started asking questions.
Leonard told Newshub that she recognized one of the three from the rowdy British tourist group when she saw photos.
The group caught the attention of worldwide media after a seemingly innocuous litter incident at Takapuna Beach erupted into a North Island tale of thefts, unpaid bills, and general nuisance behavior.
Leonard said she had lodged a complaint with the police.
The neighbor – who did not want to be named – said the 82-year-old was a perfect target for the scammers because she was "very trusting".
"If someone tells her a story, she will believe in the goodness of their hearts," he said.
He said Leonard – whose children lived overseas in Berlin – was not rich and could not afford to lose the money.
"She's 82, and what seems like a reasonably big amount to a younger person is shattering her," he said.
The three men appear to have also combed the neighborhood.
Nearby neighbors of Leonard's, Des Carville and Fale Opapo, said the men also knocked on their doors.
Solar Chem Roofing Sales Representative Roly Swann said he had heard numerous stories about scammers and called them a "blight" on his industry.
He said he was contacted in December by the family of another elderly woman wanting advice after she was duped out of more than $ 10,000 by two guys with British accents.
He advised residents approaching strangers to always ask for identification and proof of a worker's qualifications or business and also to contact the Roofing Association of NZ if in doubt.
Leonard's neighbor said the men who scammed his elderly neighbor had been confident, alert and agile.
He first noticed a problem at Leonard's house on January 4 when he saw a tile out of place on her roof.
After the men left, he went to talk to Leonard and found she had given them money.
He said the fake tradesmen were so successful in tricking Leonard because they were able to play on a belief that she already had that her roof was leaking.
The neighbor then phoned the police, who told him to call back if the men returned.
When the tradesmen returned the next day, they began to cut a hole in Leonard's ceiling, until her neighbor was noticed and came over to check what was happening.
When asked for identification or a business card, the two men said they were in their car. But instead of coming back with their identification, they fled.
Leonard's neighbor suspected the men had returned on the second day to try scam more money.
The police arrived shortly after, saying they had tracked the car's registration to a motel but that they had not yet made any arrests.