This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.
It feels like old people are always getting scammed. Honestly, go and read any article about email hackers, telemarketers, or Nigerian fraudsters and you’ll notice it’s always a 70-something-year-old woman named Dot who just didn’t see it coming. It’s heartbreaking in any case, but especially so when those old people are defrauded via their weakness for line dancing.
A line dancing scam has allegedly been taking south east Queensland, Australia, by storm, swindling retirees out of more than $120,000 [$84,853 USD], The Guardian reports. Police claim that at least 100 victims paid money to the Brett Jenkins Line Dancing company to attend or compete in a variety of line dancing festivals, balls, and cruises—both in Australia and overseas—none of which ever happened.
"The scam's been operating for the past six to 12 months," said Senior Sergeant Ken Rogers. "We've got 100 victims at this point in time and that number is growing by the day."
It’s alleged that the retirees would transfer money to the company for "The trip of a lifetime [that] was never going to eventuate," as Senior Sergeant Rogers put it. One such trip, advertized on the Brett Jenkins website as the "'Dance Sunsation' Summer Line Dance Getaway on the Gold Goast," offered two nights' accommodation, three days of line dancing workshops, and an event t-shirt, among other things, for $445 [$315 USD] per person.
In many cases, the money was taken only for the trip to be cancelled without refund, Fairfax reports, and when the victims called to try and find out what was happening their calls were never returned. Senior Sergeant Rogers claimed many victims had lost hundreds of dollars, while others were duped out of sums amounting to almost $10,000 [$7,071 USD].
"Most of these people are elderly and quite frankly some of the money that they've lost—these people simply don't have," he said. "There’s been anger and disappointment—a lot of people have put a lot of faith in these guys and the company itself… [and] for some of these people, it’s their life savings."
Queensland police are looking to speak with 37-year-old Brett Jenkins and his 66-year-old father Bruce in relation to the matter, but the pair have reportedly "gone to ground" and have been missing for several weeks. Both men are well known in the line dancing industry.
Investigators are also urging for any other victims of the alleged scam to come forward and contact them. While most of the victims came from south east Queensland, others were located across the country and some came from as far afield as Western Australia.
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