News

Clown, 1000 balloons and dog exterminator embroiled in scam

Kurt Spicer and partner Kiara McAvan have been targeted by a phone pest using their identities to order a bizarre array of goods and services to an acquaintance's home. Their exhaustive list of false orders just keeps growing.
Kurt Spicer and partner Kiara McAvan have been targeted by a phone pest using their identities to order a bizarre array of goods and services to an acquaintance's home. Their exhaustive list of false orders just keeps growing. Neville Madsen

THE past fortnight has been a living hell for three Toowoomba victims of a bizarre hoax that began with a fake pizza order before quickly entering the realm of the ridiculous.

Harlaxton resident Margaret Starkey answered a knock on her door on Tuesday, January 10 to find a Domino's delivery driver waiting with eight pizzas, two garlic breads and five bottles of Coca-Cola.

When she told the driver the order was not for her, he rang the phone number given by the original caller.

In Harlaxton, Kiara McAvan's phone started to buzz.

The driver asked for her partner Kurt Spicer - an acquaintance of Ms Starkey - whose name had been used by the mystery caller.

Confused, but not overly concerned, the trio wrote it off as a strange mistake or practical joke.

I've had three different pest control companies try to spray my yard for fleas... I'll probably have another five this week

The next day, Ms McAvan was called by a publishing company wanting to speak to her partner about the bible, the Jehovah's Witness movement and the book he was apparently trying to write.

Alarm bells started ringing, but still it seemed like a harmless prank.

By Friday, everything had changed.

First a towing company called to remove a non-existent Holden Barina, before a truck load of landscaping blocks arrived at Ms Starkey's home.

By the time she had convinced them the order was a fake, someone had turned up to install a sound system in her car.

Over the next five hours, a plastering business came to do a quote on her house and two taxis showed up along with a party hire company delivering a jumping castle, 1000 balloons and a jukebox.

To top it off, a children's clown was also there to entertain the fictional party.

Then things turned sour.

Ms Starkey said she had a visitor from the Toowoomba pound who already had her dog in his custody, ready to "put him down", due to an apparent bout of parvovirus.

"I had to physically snatch him out of his arms and explain that it was all a hoax," she said.

"I have a new-born baby staying with me and my own baby boy and I have to spend all day every day convincing people I didn't order these things.

"I can't sleep because I'm always worrying about what is going to be waiting for me the next morning."

Over two weeks, Ms Starkey has turned away a wrecking company wanting to tow her and her father's cars, plumbers trying to fix fantasy problems with her home's pipes and numerous delivery drivers with cash-on-delivery electrical goods.

"I've had three different pest control companies try to spray my yard for fleas," she said.

"I'll probably have another five this week."

The list goes on.

All the while, Ms McAvan has fielded irate calls from businesses looking for Mr Spicer.

The couple has reported the hoax to police with Ms Starkey by their side.

They still have no leads as to the identity of the impersonating pest.

"We called the companies and they said it was a young male," Ms McAvan said.

"I just want businesses to know there is a massive hoax going on so they can be wary if they get a call.

"It's really sad. I don't know how much money they have already lost because of this."

Ms Starkey believed her weekend reprieve from the infuriating ruse would end by start-of-business this morning.

"I've never heard of anything like it," she said.

"It's just ridiculous."

Businesses stung by the phone pest should contact Policelink (131 444).

Topics:  editors picks, hoax, identity theft




Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Workmates credited with saving man from certain death

THANK YOU: Bruce O'Grady in the centre with (clockwise from left) Trent Court, Chris Aiken, Dale Ward and Scott Blackwell.

BRUCE O’Grady does not remember the morning of January 25, 2016.

Multi-million dollar upgrade for Redbank Plains Rd

Cr Sheila Ireland, Cr Kerry Silver and Cr Cheryl Bromage at the new intersection upgrade of Redbank Plains Road and Cedar Rd.

Cheryl Bromage delivers big infrastructure project for city

Victim's life changed forever after horror crash

Samantha Green has been confined to a wheelchair since a car crash in January, 2015. Here she is outside Ipswich Courthouse with her mother Margaret Stroud.

She endured a nine kilometre ride of terror

Latest deals and offers

Man thanks colleagues for saving his life after forklift incident

Bruce O'Grady returned to his Wulkuraka workplace on Thursday to thank his workmates that saved his life after a workplace accident in January. (clockwise from left) Trent Court, Chris Aiken, Dale Ward and Scott Blackwell.

Ipswich paramedics have praised the workplace health and safety focus of a local...

RACQ releases SE Qld's worst choke points

Paul Turner, RACQ

Paul Turner from RACQ talks about our worst roads at peak time.

British family bashed in Thailand

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances