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Police warn of online scams

Police warn of online scams

Counties Manukau Police are urging members of the public to proceed with caution when getting involved in romance or investment deals online after finding two individuals who have fallen victim to age-old internet scams.

This week, two unrelated victims have presented to Police separately after each sending $75,000 to a scammer in Malaysia. The scammer has used the same bank account for deposits in both cases, yet the scams were different.

“One of the victims believed she was in a relationship with a New Zealand man temporarily living in Malaysia,” says Detective Matthew Kay of Counties Manukau Police Financial Investigation Unit. “He said that he was the victim of a robbery and required money for hospital treatment and other bills before he could return to New Zealand.

“The other victim sent money on the promise that it would all be returned with interest following the acquisition of a contract in Malaysia.”

Some of the payments were made through local banks; others were made through Western Union. Both victims became suspicious of the scams after more and more money was requested, with one victim even being asked to sell her house to free up funds.

“Both of these victims had early suspicions of a scam but continued with the payments until they reached $75,000. Unfortunately the use of legitimate overseas bank accounts or a long-standing online relationship does not in any way imply a legitimate transaction will be made. Once the money has been transferred overseas, it is very difficult to trace,” says Detective Kay.

Police believe that these two scams are linked to the same individual or organisation based out of Malaysia and advise anyone who is communicating online with anyone requesting money should contact Police before proceeding with a payment.

“The photographs used in the romance scam have been sourced from the internet and are well known among romance scams around the world. You should be aware that although you have been sent multiple photos, this is not the individual who you are communicating with.”

Websites are available which show galleries of photographs known to be used in current romance scams around the world. Some of the photographs provided to the victim, claimed by a scammer to be a New Zealand man living in Malaysia, were found on one of these sites.

“Police advise everyone to carefully consider who they are sending money to, particularly when using money transfer services such as Western Union. You should only send money to someone you know, such as family or a friend. Do not send money to someone you have met online or don’t know personally.”

Anyone who thinks they might be involved in a scam or knows someone involved in a scam is advised to contact Police immediately on 09 262 9121 (Counties Manukau Police Financial Investigation Unit). Information can be provided anonymously to the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

ENDS

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