Fake monks fleecing pedestrians

Last updated 15:33 09/01/2014

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Australians are being fleeced by a group of conmen dressed as Buddhist monks who take cash in exchange for supposedly religious items.

The men with shaven heads and wearing robes are approaching people on the street and asking for charitable donations, in exchange for prayer beads, amulets and spiritual guidebooks, director of Consumer Affairs Victoria Dr Claire Noone said.

''Fake fundraisers, such as these conmen dressed as Buddhist monks, take advantage of people's generosity,'' she said in a statement.

''Donating money to worthy causes is important, but Victorians need to make sure that they are dealing with a legitimate fundraiser.''

The Victoria consumer watchdog issued the warning after similar scams were reported in Perth and Sydney this week.

The Australian Sangha Association, a representative body for monks and nuns of all Buddhist traditions, confirmed that monks were ''not allowed to ask for any money as laid down in the monastic rules by the Buddha 2500 years ago,'' Consumer Affairs said in the statement.

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