Fake Buddhist monks are back in town and Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning Sydneysiders to avoid giving them money.
Commissioner Stowe said the fake monks first materialised in January, fronting people in popular tourist locations like Circular Quay, Hyde Park, Surry Hills, Parramatta CBD and Darling Harbour and asking for donations.
“The Buddhist Council of Australia advised the alleged monks were not members of the Buddhist community and were in fact running a scam,” he said.
“Fake monks were reported most recently in Victoria and we suspect they may have returned to Sydney recently to take advantage of the influx of tourists here for the Vivid Festival.
“They can reportedly become quite intimidating if people don’t hand over cash, so if that happens Fair Trading is advising people to report incidents to the nearest police station.”
“Genuine followers of Buddhism adhere to ethical precepts so scamming people for money is hardly likely to lead to the sublime state of Nirvana. People can also report fake monks to Fair Trading on 13 32 20.”
The Buddhist Council of NSW said it was saddened by the re-appearance of the group.
Chairman of the Council, Brian White, said Buddhist monks and nuns were traditionally supported by their community and would never ask for money from strangers in this way.
“Instead, people voluntarily give requisites to monastics unsolicited and this is a practice that is done with a sense of joy,” he said.
Mr Stowe said consumers could identify face-to-face charity scams by the following features:
Fair Trading recommends donating directly to the charity of your choice. Legitimate charities are registered in NSW with the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.
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