Police are warning the community of a sophisticated overseas scam targeting international students in New Zealand, which just last month has almost cost someone more than $600,000.
Auckland City Police are currently investigating three reports of a ‘Chinese officials’ scam, which predominantly targets New Zealand-based Chinese students, however there are fears this could be wider-ranging.
Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Bolton says it is imperative our communities are made aware of this scam before it is too late.
“We are extremely concerned there are vulnerable individuals being scammed right now.
“Given the large sums of money being transferred, we are asking people to be extremely vigilant with their communications as to not fall victim to this scam.”
Sadly, for two people, this warning is redundant, as Police are investigating their massive losses of $230,000 and $330,000 respectively.
“Our enquiries to date suggest those responsible for this scam are based offshore, which poses a huge challenge for NZ Police to identify who they are and exactly where they are.
“We implore those who may be targeted to be wary of who is contacting them and where they are sending money,” says Detective Senior Sergeant Bolton.
Similar versions of this particular scam have been reported and investigated in New Zealand previously, and a recent re-emergence of the scam has now been identified.
The scam involves an international student in New Zealand being contacted by someone, the scammer, posting as officials from overseas Government that are alleging that they or their family are suspected of peripheral involvement in serious crimes that are being investigated offshore.
The scammers will always ask for the remittance of large sums of money to offshore bank accounts.
Police note the communication is largely via online messaging apps such as WeChat or WhatsApp.
We are urging anyone who may believe they are currently in contact with a scammer of this nature to cease all contact immediately and get in touch with Police.
Detective Senior Sergeant Bolton says there is no shame in making a report or contacting Police.
“Your report alerts the Police to the scam so we can warn the public and follow up on any NZ based lines of enquiry.
“Although, at this stage, we are finding there are no viable NZ-based lines of enquiry with this scam, hence the importance of warning the public.”
If you believe you are or have been the victim of fraud, contact Police at 105.police.govt.nz , or call Police on 105 and report the matter.
Additionally, a number of resources are also available to those who believe they may or could be the victim of this type of offending.
There are several NZ Government websites that have information and advice to help avoid falling victim to common fraudulent activity and scams.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has more information on how you can prevent yourself, family and friends from being scammed.
The Financial Markets Authority provides helpful advice on its website to help avoid falling victim to online investments scams.
CERT NZ provides advice on how to respond to an avoid cyber security incidents.
Image credit: Torsten Dettlaff