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Oz bottle shop falls for 'double your money' scam

Expensive hangover from cash-duplicating chemical

Three Oz businesses have been taken for a total of AU$160,000 after handing over cash to scammers in the belief a wonder chemical could double their money.

According to the Stonnington Leader, the twin owners of a bottle shop in Malvern, Victoria, were approached by two men who expressed an interest in buying the business. The pair quickly "formed a rapport" with their intended victims, and revealed they had a substance capable of duplicating bank notes.

The scammers demonstrated the technique by sandwiching an AU$100 note between sheets of black paper - a "special material”, they claimed - and pouring a liquid over the top. When the sheets were peeled apart, a second AU$100 note had miraculously appeared, which the owners verified as genuine at the bank.

They then handed over AU$10,000 each, which the fraudsters subjected to the "procedure", but safely out of sight. The alchemists duly returned a bundle wrapped in silver foil, with instructions that the package should not be opened for 24 hours to allow the cash-generating chemical to do its stuff.

The scamees, however, became suspicious, opened the package and contacted police to complain that it contained only blank paper.

Cops subsequently cuffed two Caroline Springs men, aged 23 and 25, and charged them with theft. Investigations revealed the magic chemical to be a mixture of "bleach, baby powder and hair spray".

They'll appear before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 19 October, accused of relieving the bottle shop of AU$20,000, and two other businesses of AU$20,000 and AU$120,000 in a similar scam.

The victims, meanwhile, will escape a legal knuckle-rap since they "had not committed an offence". Police said that "only once a person or business has created the fraudulent money and tried to use it are they committing fraud". ®

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Thanks to Ross McCabe for the tip-off.

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