Three foreign tourists are under investigation by the Immigration Department after they were evicted from Whitianga for breaching council bylaws by selling strawberries in the town.
Thames Coromandel District Council senior compliance officer Steve Hart said the council was "tipped off" about the illegal traders after a retailer heard the trio had been asked to leave Coromandel township for selling strawberries last week.
Mr Hart said the sale of berries was a scheme involving backpackers in Auckland who were hired by a man known only as "Jake" who offers young travellers an opportunity to make some easy cash.
"He arranges rental cars and a pick-up address for cheap strawberries before sending the travellers off to various destinations around the North Island."
Mr Hart said the group evicted from Whitianga included a young traveller from Britain, one from Israel and a young girl from Bangladesh - two of whom were operating without work permits.
"They told us that the organiser met them at two Auckland Backpacker Lodges. He took the passport from the driver as security that they would return with the cash and rental car."
The traders were given a formal notice preventing them from selling in the region.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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