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Beware of the conman wearing a boiler suit

Newmarket Business Association

Wednesday 9 January 2007

Beware of the conman wearing a boiler suit

The Newmarket Business Association is urging Auckland retailers to be wary of a man in a boiler suit who promises to remove graffiti etching from windows but then flees with retailers' cash.

"We understand at least five Newmarket retailers have been stung in the last couple of days, with one paying over $300 for a service that was never delivered. We now want to warn others because by all accounts this guy is very convincing," said Cameron Brewer, general manager of the Newmarket Business Association.

"He's got a clean shaven head and gets around in a boiler suit with a tool kit. He walks into shops that have been etched and says he can do a removal job using a 'special chemical'. He has been described as about 40 years old and someone who looks and acts a bit like a science boffin.

"He says he can offer a very special price if the retailer is prepared to pay cash up front. He also claims that this is a one-off deal as he's only in the neighbourhood for a short time.

"He says his special chemical is carbon tetrachloride which is actually an old dry cleaning solvent. In reality this could never remove etching from glass but nonetheless it sounds good.

"Once he's got the cash he meticulously prepares the etched surface and then covers the areas with plastic patches. He tells the staff not to go near the plastic as the acid could burn them, and that he will be back in 24 hours to personally remove the masking tape and plastic. The problem is no one ever sees him again, and when staff peel off the plastic the etching is still there in all its glory.

"None of the embarrassed retailers who have been conned want to be identified but they do want to warn others. I suppose the lesson here is not to pay cash up front, rather only pay when the job has been completed satisfactorily."

The Newmarket Business Association has contacted the police and urges any other businesses who have been conned to report their story to the police.

"We believe many others have also been conned by this bald-headed man in a boiler suit. We know this because the man leaves behind a cellphone number that actually belongs to a woman who is sick of the many irate phone calls," said Mr Brewer.


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