An elderly couple in Hamilton have fallen victim to a scam which has cost them $26,000.
Responding to an advertisement they saw in the Waikato Times last week, the couple thought they had struck it lucky when they saw a caravan they were after selling for half its normal price, reports Fairfax Media.
According to the ad, the 7-metre Jayco caravan was in excellent condition and was selling for $16,900 as part of an "urgent sale".
"That's about what we were looking for, so it's like he'd read my mind," the 71-year-old buyer, who wished to remain anonymous said.
"My wife is recovering from cancer, so we decided to do some touring, but it's cost us $26,000."
The man said he transferred an initial payment but then received an email from a company called Priority Cargo Ltd saying an extra $9600 needed to be paid as an insurance policy before the caravan could be sent to the couple from Dunedin.
They were also told the man advertising the caravan – who called himself Allan Watt – was visiting his father-in-law in the UK who was suffering from cancer.
The scammed couple said they did a background check on Mr Watt before transferring the money but no red flags came up.
Police say the listed phone number for the alleged scammer was registered in Australia, meaning there is very little they can do from New Zealand to investigate.
"We are limited because this is obviously an offshore scammer," Detective Simon Eckersley said.
Police say this is not the first time people have been fleeced by such a scam, with another couple earlier this morning losing $25,000 in the same con.