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Serious Fraud Office warns criminals will start to target Covid-19 relief schemes

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is warning criminals will take advantage of our Covid-19 relief funds after seeing a rise in scams overseas.

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It's working with Government departments to ensure measures are in place to counter the risk after seeing a rise in scams overseas. Source: 1 NEWS

The office is working with Government departments to ensure appropriate measures are in place to counter any risks.

A US couple whose work had dried up became the victim of a phishing scam as they tried to apply for Government help, with similar scams already popping up here.

“Criminals will look to target our relief programmes for fraud,” SFO general counsel Paul O'Neil said.

“Like the virus itself we've had the advantage of looking at the experiences of other jurisdictions.”

“There's been attempts to defraud the health sector in particular, targeting the procurement process around the purchase of PPE, we've also seen targeting of wage and business stimulus programmes.

“We've had some reports of breaches of the wage subsidy scheme,” Mr O'Neil said

“We've certainly got our audit function up and running and as a result of that, I believe the number was in the 30s of companies who've been asked to pay their money back,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

Inland Revenue is also identified cases that need further investigation.

“We have identified some areas that will need further investigation and are in the process of sharing data between IRD and MSD,” they said in a statement.

The public encouraged to be careful as well.

“In the current climate every dollar counts, ensure you know who you're dealing with,” Mr O'Neil said.