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Auckland Man Jailed For Smuggling Card Skimming Equipment

A Customs investigation has resulted in the sentencing of an Auckland man to 25 months’ prison for smuggling card skimming equipment.

Forty year old Rimamotu Tiavare appeared in Auckland District Court this week (26 July 2023) and was convicted on one charge for knowingly importing goods for dishonest purposes under the Customs and Excise Act 2018. The sentence also reflected active Police charges including using forged documents, money laundering and accessing a computer system for dishonest purposes.

Customs officers intercepted an air freight package in May 2022 containing a car stereo, which concealed two card skimming devices sent from the USA.

Further investigations led to a search warrant at his home address where evidence including cash, notes with card skimming instructions, and phones that had been used to search for ATM locations were found.

Nigel Barnes, Chief Customs Officer - Fraud and Prohibition, says card skimming typically involves inserting a device into ATMs that can read data contained on card magnetic strips, accessing credit cards details.

“Criminals also attach pinhole cameras hidden around the ATM to obtain the PIN number of the card. The stolen data is later cloned onto blank cards, which are then used by the offenders at ATMs to withdraw money, or sold to overseas third parties for profit.”

“In this case, the insert devices found by Customs were later found to be harder to detect by banks and ATM users.

“Card skimming is a highly sophisticated way for criminals to steal money from their victims, which often goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Customs work closely with law enforcement and industry partners to prevent this type of illegal activity and we remain committed to protecting our communities from being scammed.

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“Everyone is urged to be extra vigilant when using ATMs or any other machines that accept bank and credit cards - always cover up when entering your PIN.” Mr Barnes said.

You can visit www.customs.govt.nz/report or call Customs on 0800 WE PROTECT (0800 937 768) confidentially, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, if you have information regarding unusual or suspicious activity.

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