Elderly Among Victims Scammed $120,000 In Line Dancing Fraud
Queensland police are hunting for a father-son duo who are believed to have scammed unsuspecting line dancing enthusiasts hundreds of thousands of dollars in fake tours and events.
Brett Jenkins, 37, and his father Bruce Jenkins, 66, are suspected of running an elaborate fraud in south-east Queensland for the last six to 12 months, scamming the local line-dancing community upwards of $120,000.
The pair have now gone to ground after they were last seen more than five days ago and have moved out of their family and holiday homes.
Queensland Police say they have so far identified 100 victims but that number is growing by the day.
"The scam would operate in a number of different ways," Senior Sergeant Ken Rogers told reporters on Monday.
"Members of the line dancing community would contribute money to the company on the proviso that they were going on tours."
Rogers said unsuspecting customers believed their money was going to fund travelling costs both interstate and overseas to either compete at or attend social line dancing events all over the world.
"These are their life savings that they've saved up for their trip of a lifetime and that's now not going to happen."
Customers, many of whom are elderly, have been scammed anywhere between a few hundred dollars to up to $10,000 dollars.
They've expressed both anger and disappointment, police said.
"Quite frankly some of the money they've lost, these people simply don't have," Rogers said.
Police said the father and son who operate the line dancing company have been associated with the line dancing community for more than 15 years.
Brett Jenkins has been teaching line-dancing since he was 15-years-old.
"Over that period of time they've established trust and rapport," Rogers said.
Detectives believe their business was above aboard up until the last six to twelve months when the alleged fraudulent activities began occurring.
Rogers said many of the planned events were cruises and while some had eventuated in that period, other bookings were simply never made.
The investigation into the alleged fraud has been ongoing for the last six weeks, with many of the complaints initially made to Fair Trading.
10 daily contacted the Office of Fair Trading who said it could not comment on ongoing investigations but would assist police if required.
Rogers said any other victims should contact police if they believe they have been scammed and to not send any more money to the company.
He said the alleged scam was unusual because it was carried out face-to-face and not online.
"It's probably fair to say generally speaking we can never be too vigilant with scams and fraudulent activity," he said.
"We're forever trying to stay on top of that."
Rogers said detectives are now working around the clock to try and track the two men, and believe they have not left the country but might be interstate.