A dream vacation won by an elderly Australian couple turned out to be a ploy to make them into unwitting drug mules. Australian Federal Police has warned the public of a new scam organised by a bogus Canada-based tour company that targets older people into transporting drugs in the guise of a paid holiday.
The unnamed couple from Perth believed that they had won an all-expense paid trip to Canada when they were actually being used as drug mules. The 72-year-old man and 64-year-old woman were declared as lucky winners of the Canadian Web site, the prizes of which include two tickets to the North American country, seven nights accommodation, and new luggage.
They had enjoyed their week-long trip, but they became suspicious on their return to Perth International Airport on October 13. They told Customs officials of their concerns about their bags, and upon inspection, they found 3.5kg of methamphetamine hidden in each of their suitcases.
A 38-year-old Canadian man, who was due to meet the couple on their arrival, was arrested at the airport. He was charged with importing a commercial quality of methamphetamine.
A search of the man's hotel room in Scarborough led to the discovery of documents believed to be associated with the scam, as well as electronic equipment, $15,000 cash, and two suitcases similar to the ones seized at the airport.
The police do not believe that the couple knew about their involvement in the drug trafficking scene. It is suspected that their luggage was swapped while they were in Canada.
"The investigation has revealed a complex and highly organised scam in which older Australians appear to be targeted by a bogus Canadian-based tour company identifying themselves as Auscan Tours," AFP Commander David Bachi said in a statement, adding that the organisers of the scam took great efforts to appear legitimate.
"Thankfully the travellers contacted Customs and didn't dismiss their concerns, allowing us to make the arrest."
Investigation regarding the matter is on-going.
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