Petrol scammers target shoppers
Police are warning people to be on the lookout for a man with missing teeth who asks for money to buy petrol.
Christchurch Central area commander Inspector Derek Erasmus said police had received "multiple reports" of people being approached by individuals claiming they needed cash to buy petrol so they could get home.
"In the vast majority of cases, these people are scammers and the plea for money is a deception," he said.
"We have had a reports of people being approached in mall car parks and more recently also in the central city."
One prolific offender, who was known to police, was described as a European man in his 40s, clean-shaven, with missing teeth. He typically poses as a farmer from Hororata and asks for money as he has run out of petrol.
"[The scammers] are clearly successful as the scam is continuing and on a scale where they are believed to be making significant sums of money," Erasmus said.
He warned members of the public not to be taken in by the scam.
"Our advice to anyone who is approached is simple - don't give cash to strangers. Ignore the approach and report it to police, and if you can, note down any descriptions and vehicle registrations," Erasmus said.
Police were continuing to investigate reported incidents and would look at possible prosecutions for obtaining money by deception, which is punishable by prison terms of between three months and seven years.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 363 7400.