Tree pruning fraud hits Auckland

Last updated 16:12 07/01/2013

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A shady gang of fraudsters posing as pruners are casting suspicion on the arbor industry by turning up unannounced at Auckland properties.

Police say three incidents of suspicious people lurking in residential backyards were reported at the weekend near Mt Wellington.

"When challenged, they have told the home owners they are on the property to carry out tree cutting, with one woman even going so far as to provide the name of a company she claimed to be working for," Senior Sergeant Hirone Waretini of the Mt Wellington police said.

Subsequent enquiries by the resident confirmed suspicions that she did not work for the company she named and that there was no work scheduled by that company, he said.

"Unfortunately for all those very hard working, legitimate and trustworthy operators, a couple of nefarious individuals posing as legitimate workers can lead to a general suspicion of those in the industry."

Waretini asked that if any person was found in a residential yard without a reasonable excuse, residents call police as a first option.

"Even if the person disappears prior to our arrival, we can gather sufficient information to either deploy more resource into the area or even identify potential suspects," he said.

Police were also aware of some people attempting to solicit business recently by cold calling.

"These people will attempt to obtain a deposit and then depart without completing the work or only complete a small part of what was agreed."

Waretini said it was important to ask for names, contact numbers and company names if the public were approached in that way, and to exercise constant vigilance.

"Hi-visibility vests are readily available at $2 shops and they are in no way a symbol of authority. It's important for people to remember that."

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- Auckland Now

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