Brazen scammer offered victims non-existent jobs

Hastings police are seeking a scam artist who has been making money out of convincing people looking to earn some money to hand over $50.

The man has been moving around the greater Hastings area over the past month approaching people under the guise of someone who has connections in the employment industry and who can find them a job - if they hand over a weekly fee of $50.

Flaxmere Community Constable Greg Andrew said he had caught out "several" people who were desperate to find work and had collected money from them.

"He comes across as very plausible - he knows what he's doing," Mr Andrew said.

As well as locals he had been approaching overseas visitors at backpackers and telling them he could find them some holiday work - for a fee.

Mr Andrew said one of the man's popular spots was the Work and Income carpark in Hastings as people arrived and left, as well as making approaches to people in the central city and even orchards.

"Several people have lost money after paying him in the belief that he would find a job for them," Mr Andrew said.

"These are people who are trying to do the right thing and find work - and it is particularly distressing for them as they not only lose their money but they are given a false hope that they will have a job," he said.

The man is described as Maori, in his early 50s, about 1.8m (5 feet 11) tall, of solid build and balding.

He has been seen driving a silver Subaru sedan and on some occasions he was accompanied by a woman when he approached people.

Mr Andrew said police were "very keen" to speak to the man and offered some simple advice to anyone who found themselves offered the opportunity of work in exchange for a $50 fee.

"Don't pay him any money and send him on his way."

Mr Andrew said there had been a scam running along the same lines about two or three years ago.

He was not sure exactly how many people had been duped this time around although the man had been active in many areas.

Anyone who has had dealings with the man, or thinks they may know who he is, is asked to contact Mr Andrew at Flaxmere Police Station on 831 0700.

Information can also be left anonymously on the Crimestoppers line.

- By Roger Moroney of the Hawke's Bay Today

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