An editor whose magazine helped sponsor young Waikato golfers is now at the centre of a nationwide fraud investigation.
Detective Simon Eckersley, of the Waikato Fraud Squad, yesterday warned people to be wary of the Hibiscus Coast-based golfing magazine NZ Golf Gazette, with victims being targeted through the publication.
The police did not name the 63-year-old, but sources have told the Waikato Times the man being investigated is editor Lance Murray, of Orewa.
Mr Murray did not answer repeated calls from the Times yesterday.
Allegations are that Mr Murray charged people's credit cards twice for golf tours, with some being over-charged thousands of dollars.
It is unclear if he is still in Australia, where he had planned to run a golf tour on the Sunshine Coast from August 9 to August 14.
Waihi Golf Club members were among those targeted and in June their newsletter warned people not to associate with him.
Yesterday Waihi Golf Club manager Gary Dunning said some members had been double charged for a trip, or rounds of golf, they'd purchased via auctions run by Mr Murray.
"Their Visas were debited for the trip, whether it be $1500 or $200, then at a later stage [several months later] people complained to us that their cards had been debited again. So they paid for the trip twice."
Others paid only to find the trip hadn't been booked and they had to make last-minute arrangements for accommodation, it is alleged.
The investigation has shocked the Waikato golfing community who had come to know Mr Murray as someone who supported growing talent. In February the Gazette sponsored the 26th annual junior fundraiser at the Hamilton Golf Club, which Mr Murray attended.
The Gazette went into liquidation at the beginning of this month and calls to the magazine's office say it's now closed.
Last week New Zealand Golf chief executive Dean Murphy emailed golf clubs around the country asking anyone who had dealings with Mr Murray to contact police.
"I personally spoke to Lance 10 days ago regarding the ongoing complaints received by our office. Lance assured me all was being rectified and that he would repay all monies immediately and fulfil all prize vouchers.
"He indicated that he was in personal contact with all people who had laid complaints and all was under control," the email said.
Mr Eckersley said preliminary inquiries also showed the alleged offender had bought 1000 pairs of golf shoes and on-sold them to members of golf clubs in the Canterbury, Nelson, Taranaki, Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Auckland areas.
Some received their shoes, while many didn't. The supplier was also left out of pocket, he said.
"One Auckland golf club had 40-50 members affected and we're now dealing with 67 independent victims who are both clubs and individuals from across the country."
Mr Eckersley said the police were assessing the scale of the offending and urged any other victims to make contact with him.
Anyone with any information should contact the Hamilton Central Police Station on 07 858 6200 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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