International gamers frustrated by police silence after alleged Kaikoura earthquake fraud

This picture of David Buick's home was allegedly used on a fundraising page for Jeffrey Meikle.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

This picture of David Buick's home was allegedly used on a fundraising page for Jeffrey Meikle.

International online gamers allegedly defrauded by a Blenheim man say they are frustrated police do not seem to be taking their concerns seriously. 

The group of gamers say a group member, Jeffrey Meikle, tricked them into thinking his house had been flattened by November's Kaikoura earthquake. 

Meikle allegedly accepted $2155 from them, and nearly four months after they first got suspicious they claim he has still not returned the money. 

Ure River farmers Dave Buick and Leah Gill outside their ruined house.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Ure River farmers Dave Buick and Leah Gill outside their ruined house.

Meikle said in December he did not receive any money, and he could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

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The Privateer's Alliance group said that they complained to both Blenheim police and Interpol in late December, but nothing had eventuated from it. 

California-based member Jacquie Gorman-Sortland said Blenheim police told Privateers' Alliance to contact Interpol, who never got back to them despite her filing reports. 

If the gamers got the money back they wanted to use it to help New Zealanders genuinely struggling after the earthquake.

However, neither organisation seemed to think it was their problem, she said. 

"Jeff has not returned the money. 

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"People still ask me [to] follow up [the complaint], but not because they are demanding it back. Mostly because if we manage to get it back, the hope was to donate it to a legitimate earthquake relief charity in NZ." 

Blenheim area commander inspector Simon Feltham could not be reached for comment, and the South Island police media team said they could not find any record of a formal complaint being laid about Jeffrey Meikle. 

"Police encourage anyone with a report or information on criminal activity to contact their local police, whether here or overseas. Should the matter involve overseas individuals, then it will be passed on to Interpol who will deal with the relevant authorities," a spokeswoman said. 

Requests for information from Interpol's media team received no response.

"I think they just decided the money amount wasn't worth the time," Gorman-Sortland said. 

A Stuff photograph of a house damaged by the earthquake, belonging to Marlborough farmer David Buick, was used on a fundraising page for Meikle.

Gorman-Sortland said Meikle told them it was his house.

Buick expressed his anger about the apparent deception last year, saying he did not want the image used to rip people off.

Claims that Jeffrey Meikle's partner knew Buick's family and he was fundraising on their behalf were "a lot of rubbish", Buick said at the time.

Gorman-Sortland said the group was less trusting than before, but had not stopped trying to raise money for different causes. 

"We have different members doing different fundraisers still, but not for people anymore. Mostly for charities.

"The impact was no more 'tales of woe' fundraising without hard evidence." 

Neither Meikle nor his partner could be reached for comment on Thursday. It is understood he lives in Christchurch.

 - The Marlborough Express

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