Reports a suspected conwoman was preying on the goodwill of Coromandel Peninsula businesses with tales of dodgy dining have netted two arrests.
Thames Senior Sergeant Graham Shields yesterday said two people had been arrested over the alleged eateries scam following reports by the Waikato Times on Saturday.
At least five Thames cafes had fallen victim to the ruse in which an "overweight" woman told the owners she had suffered food poisoning after eating at their premises.
In many cases the woman, who claimed she was pregnant, was given a refund.
Mr Shields said Whitianga police arrested two people on Saturday after a cafe reported a woman trying to get money by saying she had become ill after eating there.
"It just so happened that one of the staff had read about the scam in the paper and when this woman came in complaining of food poisoning the staff member went straight to police, Mr Shields told the Times.
A 26-year-old Auckland woman will appear in Thames District Court this week charged with fraud while a 30-year-old Auckland man will also appear charged with assisting her.
Mr Shields understood the pair had travelled to Whangamata, Thames and Whitianga. He asked businesses who may have been targeted to contact police.
"It's too early for us to say how long the pair were operating but we know they were in Thames on Friday and came back to the Coromandel on Saturday.
"We're not expecting any more arrests in relation to this pair's activities but I won't be surprised if we get more complainants."
Thames' Sola Cafe co-owner Clare Rodley said she gave the woman a $21 refund after she complained staff had incorrectly served her full cream.
"As a business we are so aware of people's allergies and I was super nice to her so I feel doubly duped," Miss Rodley said.
"It's not a huge amount of money but we all work hard for our money. I just think it's sad that she has to go around doing this because she must need the money and probably can't find a job."
Miss Rodley said she would follow the outcome of the court process but wasn't sure if she would seek reparation.
"What was really neat was how our small community came together and put the word out that this was happening. We're a very close community."
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