Police warn of soaring financial scams as victims Lose $200M

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Nov 16, 2023 |

New Zealand Police have issued a stern warning to the public about the rising threat of sophisticated scams, following reports that nearly $200 million was lost by New Zealanders to fraud in the past year.

Data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) paints a grim picture of the financial losses incurred by unsuspecting victims.

The scammers, targeting individuals across New Zealand, particularly those with savings or investments, have resorted to increasingly complex methods.

One notable method is the ‘term deposit scam’, where victims are lured onto fake banking websites and duped into transferring money into accounts controlled by ‘money mules’.

Money mules play a crucial role in these scams. They are individuals who transfer illegally acquired money on behalf of others, thus laundering the proceeds derived from online scams and fraud.

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Bolton of the Auckland City District Financial Crime Unit emphasised the serious legal consequences of acting as a money mule, including potential arrest and prosecution for money laundering.

Earlier this year, police action against such scams led to the arrest of a 60-year-old Auckland man, charged with two counts of money laundering linked to cases where victims lost nearly $2 million collectively in a term deposit-style scam. The accused has pleaded not guilty and awaits further court proceedings.

While the frequency of complaints related to the term deposit scam has decreased, thanks to increased public awareness and victim reporting, police stress that scams and fraud activities continue to rise.

Police urge the public to be vigilant, especially when dealing with financial transactions online.

They advise doing thorough research, consulting with friends and family, and checking with authoritative bodies like the Financial Markets Authority before engaging in any seemingly attractive deals.

Victims of fraud, or those suspecting fraudulent activities, are encouraged to cease all contact with the scammer, avoid making any further payments, inform their bank, and report the matter to the Police at 105.police.govt.nz or by calling 105.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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