Fake monk prompts warning of scams

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 10:47 24/03/2014

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Wellington

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A phony monk pressuring people into large donations on the streets of Wellington was previously approaching people in Auckland.

The shaven-headed man, dressed in the working robes of a monk, was spotted during the past week wandering the streets of the capital offering bracelets to passers-by.

On Sunday Fairfax Media exposed the sham after tracking down the monk following complaints from members of the public.

He was found on Plimmer Steps in central Wellington, being spoken to by two police officers.

A young woman walking past stopped and pointed to the monk while gesturing to a bracelet on her arm.

After speaking to police, she said the monk had stopped her on the street and given her a bracelet, then directed her towards an ATM machine after she said she only had a small amount in coins to give.

The scam appears similar to one that was spotted in Australia at the beginning of the year. Men dressed as monks were reported in cities across Australia, with one person in Sydney claiming a monk pulled a portable credit card machine from his robes to ask for a donation.

Auckland resident Marcelle Walden said she was walking on Quay St on March 10 when she was approached by the same man, who immediately put a bracelet on her hand and asked her to write in his book.

After he asked for a donation, Ms Walden said she had no cash so the man suggested they go to an ATM machine.

After telling him she was going to Subway to buy lunch and could get some cash out he followed and waited outside.

Ms Walden said she only had $15 left in her account so bought a sandwich and got $5 out to give him.

"I gave him the $5 and he said "no, $10", I then desperately explained to him that that was all I had.

"I always donate to causes I believe in no matter what my financial situation, because I mean $5 isn't going to make me any richer."

Britomart resident Grace Walker also said she had been approached by the man, who put a bracelet in her hand and asked for a donation.

When she gave him $3 he asked for $30, then $20, then $5 by pointing to sums written in a book suggesting other people had donated more, she said.

Public Fundraising Regulatory Association general manager Karen Ward said transparency and assurance for the public that their donations were going to legitimate causes was important.

All association registered fundraisers would always have photographic identity badges, wear branded clothing and be able to provide contact details for the public, she said.

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- The Dominion Post

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