Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Former Black Cap caught out in $20k scam

Former Black Cap Lou Vincent was caught out in a scam which left him out of pocket to the tune of $20,367. Photo / Getty Images.
Former Black Cap Lou Vincent was caught out in a scam which left him out of pocket to the tune of $20,367. Photo / Getty Images.

When former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent offered to raise money to help a Glasgow family whose teenager had a serious head injury, he didn't expect to end up out-of-pocket to the tune of £10,000 ($20,367).

The husband was a mechanic Vincent hired to fix his camper van. He deposited his cash into a nominated bank account before, according to Vincent, the family scarpered, with the husband also failing to repair his vehicle.

"They showed me a newspaper article about their son, so I think the head injury was legitimate," Vincent says. "I even stayed with the family. They made me welcome but behind the scenes, they were conspiring to take my money.

"In hindsight, it was too good to be true. I found the guy, Gerry Meechan - I'm not sure that's his real name - on a legitimate website for mechanics. I thought I'd do the Kiwi thing of getting the camper van checked out before I bought it. He said 'leave it with me...' He reckoned he'd cleared his diary to get my bus on the road, then he found a Scottish lady to buy my car but it turned out she didn't exist.

"When I confronted him to get my car, bus and money back, he did a runner. I rang the cops and told them I'd handed over the money. They said under Scottish law, you've got to go through a lawyer if you've handed over the moolah.

"It becomes a civil matter unless assault or theft has occurred. Now it's my word against his. I need to prove he didn't do the work in court.

"I can handle losing the money; getting your pants pulled down and rogered is a lesson in life. What I can't live with is the fact if I don't do anything, he'll do it again."

It continues a bad run for Vincent, now based in the UK, who suffers from depression. He's trying to do something about it by raising money for the Mind charity. Mind is a 66-year-old organisation which aims to help people take control of their mental health.

"That charity is close to home for me. I want to get behind something where you can make a difference, like John Kirwan did with mental health awareness. In this modern age, managing mental health is as important as managing physical health, like going to the gym. The biggest message is building solid bonds with family and friends."

Vincent has struggled to do that but is starting to walk the talk. He split from ex-wife Elly and two daughters Molly (6) and Bessie (2) some time ago and has taken to the road this cricket season as part of what he's termed Lou's Wacky Woodworm Wagon Adventures.

Vincent is sponsored by cricket gear manufacturing company Woodworm and his interviews are played on British Sky Sport's Cricket AM programme. He coaxes famous people (generally with a link to the cricket community) back to his 'dining room table' where he films them for the whereislou.co.uk website. He also uploads those interviews to youtube.com and the Woodworm website.

For a novice broadcaster (although dad Mike is a veteran broadcast journalist) Vincent has some clout in this multimedia, self-publishing age. His CV of interviews over the past few months is astonishing. He convinced five-time Olympic rowing champion Sir Steven Redgrave to demonstrate how to row, using a packet of biscuits and two plastic spoons; he got British television cook Ainsley Harriott to knock up a salmon salad from buffet leftovers at a cricket charity game; and he got international umpires Aleem Dar and Marais Erasmus (on pink banjo) to do a "Happy Birthday" duet on what Vincent terms 'Ipod idol'.

"This fulfils my life," Vincent says. "Going around meeting these great people. I don't need much money to live off."

After a recent stint as batting coach with Hong Kong, including a camp in Pakistan, Vincent is still wielding his own bat on occasion.

"I'm getting together a bit of income playing club cricket in Cheshire and with celebrity side Lashings. I've come through some dark days where I damaged the relationship with my ex-wife. We've put things right now. We'll never get back together - she's met a new fella who's terrific - but my girls are happy in Cheshire [near Manchester]. I can visit any time I want, which is great."

Vincent still hopes to join the Auckland squad in September when they attempt to qualify for the Champions League.

- Herald on Sunday

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