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Wellington woman says she nearly fell victim to wanted tourist scammer

As police continue to hunt for two British tourists accused of scamming homeowners, a Wellington woman says she thinks she had a run in with one of them yesterday.

The search for Tommy Ward and William Donohue is ongoing, a police spokesperson told 1 NEWS today. 

"A notification has gone out to staff across the North Island with their details and the fact they are wanted for arrest," she said in a statement.

Tommy Ward Source: NZ Police

Police earlier stated on Facebook that the pair are believed to be connected to an alleged series of doorstep frauds.

"They are believed to part of a group who are pressuring people into paying up-front for roof cleaning services (or similar) and then leaving with the money and not completing the job," officials wrote. "They have strong Irish accents.

"‘They are believed to be travelling in a silver Volvo SUV and have recently been seen in Whanganui area."

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A man with a strong accent came to the door of a Te Aro house, offering to waterblast a path. Source: 1 NEWS

Te Aro resident Grace Humphreys tells 1 NEWS she has made a report to police after a man came to the door of her rental on Te Aro’s main road at 11.10am yesterday, asking if she wanted the front path to be water-blasted.

“He said, ‘I’ve been working up the top and saw you have some weeds on your path. I can offer you a water blasting service for a very competitive rate,’” she said.

When Ms Humphreys questioned the man about where he’d been working, he said she might have seen him working at the end of the road, which she said felt like he was trying to add credibility and build a rapport with her.

William Donohue Source: NZ Police

Ms Humphreys told the man she needed to discuss the offer with her partner as they were renting, adding that he seemed “really nice” and “really genuine, like he really wanted to help”.

Inside, her partner told her the offer seemed “really odd” and her parents who were visiting mentioned the alleged British scammers they’d heard about through the media.

Ms Humphreys’ partner proceeded to tell the man the couple owned their own water blaster and did not need the service, and when the man left, Ms Humphreys’ father walked out of the property behind him.

The man tried to enter another property but stopped after having difficulty with the front gate, before walking out of the street with Ms Humphreys’ father following him for about 200m to try to take a clear photo of him before he lost sight of the man, Ms Humphreys said.

Afterwards, Ms Humphreys’ mother showed her a photo of alleged fraudster and wanted man William Donohue that had been posted by police, and she realised the man that she’d been speaking to looked the same.

Her father added, “Yeah, it did look like him. It was definitely him.”

The man had a thick Irish accent and was wearing a dark grey wide-brimmed hat, dark blue polo and croc-style shoes with white socks, Ms Humphreys said.

“I wouldn’t want to accuse someone unnecessarily but due to the way he looked exactly like the photo, and I feel that I’m not biased because I hadn’t seen the photo previously, and he was acting shifty in that he made himself scarce afterwards,” Ms Humphreys said.

“I felt like I had a duty to tell people, purely because as the other people in the room pointed out, what was to say he wouldn’t try rip other people off, like he had tried to with us?”

Brooklyn resident approached

A Brooklyn resident was also approached by a man wearing a wide brimmed hat and blue clothing offering to waterblast yesterday.

Dani, who wants to keep her last name concealed, said a young man came to her window between 11am-11.30am and was "very friendly" as he asked if she wanted her driveway cleaned.

"I come from the UK where this type of behaviour was evident near where we lived.

"As soon as I heard his accent I knew not to engage with his services," Dani said in a statement.

The man told Dani he had been water blasting at another property on the same street.

"He was exactly like the photo posted by the police. He had an Irish Romany accent," she said.

The police spokeswoman said today she was "unable to go into details of any specific sightings at this time".

However, she encouraged people to report any suspicious behaviour to police immediately by calling 111.

Two other British men, aged 27 and 30, appeared in Whanganui District Court on February 1, facing several charges of deception.

Police say the men are responsible for ripping off Aucklanders in a roofing scam.

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Grace Humphreys says the man had a thick accent and asked if she wanted her path water-blasted. Source: 1 NEWS