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Kaikōura Man Formally Charged For Alleged Role In NZ SMS Scams

A 28-year-old Kaikōura man was formally charged last week for his alleged role in the large-scale scamming of New Zealanders through SMS scam messages, following an investigation by Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

The investigation was a part of Operation Cargo, an operation which uncovered a transnational criminal network of scammers which can be held responsible for most SMS scams in New Zealand in 2023, as covered in DIA’s 2023 Digital Messaging Transparency Report on 2 April 2024.

Through a joint search warrant undertaken by DIA and New Zealand Police, investigators recovered a large number of SIM cards, a high value amount of cash, and multiple electronic devices used to spread scams on a large scale. Some were active and taken down at the time of the warrant.

Joe Teo, Manager Digital Messaging and Systems, DIA, attributed the investigation’s success to a joint industry approach to catching scammers:

“We are seeing a new method to SMS scamming not previously seen before in Aotearoa. A new approach from scammers means a tactical strategy from multiple organisations is needed to stay ahead of trends in the SMS scam space and stop scammers in their tracks.”

“We thank New Zealand Police for their support with this investigation and for the ongoing joint efforts of telecommunications providers and NZ Banks to combatting SMS scams.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Shane Dye, Tasman Organised Crime Manager says New Zealand Police welcomed the charges.

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“Police are committed to preventing harm in our communities and this is a great example of a successful inter-agency effort with a singular goal, to reduce financial harm and hold offenders responsible.”

If you receive a scam SMS text message, please report it free of charge by forwarding the message to 7726 and following the prompts.

If you are a victim of a scam and have not yet reported it to Police, or don’t know what action to take, first report it to your bank as soon as you become aware, and then contact Police on 105.

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. Visit

More details about Operation Cargo, the work that went into the digital messaging investigations please visit 2023 Digital Messaging Transparency Report.

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