Source: New Zealand Police (District News)
Three people have been arrested and charged as part of ongoing investigations by Police into phone scam complaints.
Police from the Auckland City Financial Crime Unit are seeing a surge in reports from victims who have lost significant amounts of money to phone scammers in recent months.
On one occasion in August, an 84-year-old victim reported losing almost $10,000 after receiving a call from an unknown person claiming to be from Spark, who stated the victim’s Spark account had been hacked.
The scammer gained access to the victim’s computer by asking them to download an application where they could access their computer remotely. The victim later noticed a large sum of money had been unknowingly taken from their account.
Following enquiries with the bank, Police arrested and charged three men residing in Auckland in relation to alleged money laundering offending.
The men, aged 31, 28 and 26, are all appearing in the Auckland District Court this month.
Detective Senior Sergeant Bridget Doell says while the phone scammers operate offshore, they typically recruit people in New Zealand to transfer the money into offshore accounts.
“These people are working as money mules and they are generally paid a portion of the money for their role.
“Money laundering is illegal and we want to warn those engaging in this criminal activity that they risk being prosecuted for their part in these scams.
“We will continue to investigate these phone scam cases and further arrests are likely.
“If you are approached online by someone requesting to use your account to transfer funds, you are likely being recruited as a money mule. Do not engage with them or give them your account details.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Doell says Police once again urge the public to be wary of calls from scammers after seeing millions of dollars lost by Kiwis in the past few months alone.
“Never give your personal banking information out over the phone and do not allow the caller to access your computer remotely – regardless of what company the caller claims to be from.
“If you think you may have been a victim of a scam, notify your bank immediately.”
A similar investigation by the Auckland City Financial Crime Unit into phone scams last year, Operation Deadwood, resulted in 18 people charged with money laundering offences.
Nick Baker/NZ Police