The family of tourists at the centre of a controversial storm this week say that have become victims of an elaborate scam.
Soon after speaking with the media, John Johnson, who acted as spokesperson for the group, received an email offering a large sum of money.
“It was from the Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor.” Mr Johnson told The Stuffed Herald.
“I thought it was legit and all, because like I said earlier to that other newspaper he’s my grandfather and the tenth richest man in England.”
Hugh Grosvenor is 27 years old and inherited his title from his father, who passed away two years previously.
Mr Johnson allowed The Stuffed Herald to see a copy of the email.
I am. very sad to here of your trubbles in new Zealind. i wold like to send you and your honorable family some money to help your future indeavors and return home safely to. england soon.
I can send you this money but sadly western union is delaying this trans action and demands a fee or they will.not releas the money I have sent to you.
Please can you immediatly deposit to me the fee which is 340 euro only, and remember to send all the details for the bank account of yourself and family member so the money can. be quickly paid to you.”
Duke of westminster”
Mr Johnson says he replied to the email to confirm the Duke’s bank account details and received an immediate reply. He was asked again for banking details and sent these on.
Next, Mr Johnson says he got an email from their bank.
“It said there was unusual activity and we should click the link in the message to go to the banking website, and log in to review.” He explained.
This is where it all went terribly wrong.
The tourists went to make purchases a short time later, only to discover their transactions were declining.
“Each of us tried,” said Mr Johnson. “But none of our cards worked.”
Worried, they checked their accounts to find them cleared out.
“New Zealand is just awful and people here are mean and scary, but now we can’t afford to leave” he lamented.
However, Immigration NZ has confirmed the tourists are being deported and their financial situation will not prevent them from leaving the country.