Cops released surveillance photos Friday of two suspects they say tried to extort an Aussie pol out of $1,000 after he ordered a massage in his $500-a-night Midtown hotel.
The two men in their 20s demanded the money from Gareth Ward, 37, a New South Wales state parliament member who was visiting New York on his way to a conference in Nova Scotia.
Ward was staying at the Intercontinental Hotel on W. 44th St. Aug. 29 when he called a number given to him by a friend and ordered up what police sources called a “special massage.”
After he called the service, two young men came to his door, police said. Uneasy because he was expecting only once person, he told them to leave.
Aussie pol falls victim to ‘special massage’ scam at NYC hotel
At that point, one of the men pulled out his cellphone and started recording.
“My friend is 16,” the visitor claimed, according to sources. “If you don’t pay us $1,000 we’re going to tell everyone we’re minors.”
Ward told them he would go to an ATM and get cash. They followed.
Instead, Ward went to the front desk and told a clerk what was happening.
Australian pol says he’s the victim in massage scandal
The clerk called 911 and the would-be blackmailers took off down W. 44th St.
The episode caused a scandal Down Under with some of his colleagues saying he should resign and others backing his story.
Ward told the Daily Telegraph, “I mean, who doesn’t ask for a massage when they are on holiday? I know how it looks but I can assure you this is nothing short of attempted robbery.”
The suspects were each wearing caps, white T-shirts and blue jeans.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.
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