Palmerston North police are on the trail of scammers who have twisted a campaign to stop people putting rubbish in the recycling bins in order to get cash for themselves.
The group, using a woman to knock on doors, has created forms that tell people they are in line for an $80 council fine, but can get a $50 discount for paying $30 cash on the spot. Some people have been taken in by the ploy.
City council water and waste services manager Rob Green said the scam was mean-spirited.
"We are trying to reduce contamination in bins, but to swindle people in the council's name is wrong on so many levels."
The phony fines were first reported to the council at the weekend and were referred to the police.
Green said if anyone else was approached by someone purporting to be a council officer, but who could not produce identification, they should call the police.
He said all council officers with enforcement responsibilities had to carry a warrant issued by the Crown.
They never received payments in the field. All fines had to be paid directly to the council.
In the case of rubbish and recycling, there were no fines issued for misuse of recycling bins.
The council's system was to issue people with strike notices when rubbish was found contaminating their recycling bins. After three strikes, the council could stop collecting from that address.
Green said council staff were visiting other residents in the area where the complaints had come from to alert them to the scam.
Inspector Brett Calkin said residents should be wary of anyone knocking on their door and claiming to issue fines for not recycling properly.
"If someone comes knocking on your door for this reason then please call the police immediately. It would be helpful if you could also provide a description and/or a vehicle registration number."
He said anyone asking for money should be asked for identification displaying who they represented.
- Manawatu Standard
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