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Three men charged in phone scam case which saw 84-year-old lose $10k

Three men have been charged as part of an investigation into phone scam complaints, which saw in one instance an 84-year-old scammed out of $10,000.

Source: istock.com

The person was tricked by someone claiming to be from Spark and had their account hacked after downloading an application on their computer.

They weren't the only one to fall victim, though.

Police from the Auckland City Financial Crime Unit said they were seeing a surge in reports from victims who have lost significant amounts of money to phone scammers in recent months.

Following inquiries with the bank, police have charged three Auckland men in relation to alleged money laundering offending.

The men, aged 31, 28 and 26, are all appearing in the Auckland District Court this month.

In a statement today, Detective Senior Sergeant Bridget Doell said further arrests were likely.

While the phone scammers operate offshore, they typically recruit people in New Zealand to transfer the money into offshore accounts, she said.

“These people are working as money mules and they are generally paid a portion of the money for their role.

“Money laundering is illegal and we want to warn those engaging in this criminal activity that they risk being prosecuted for their part in these scams."

Doell warned anyone who is approached online by someone requesting to use your account to transfer funds that they are likely being recruited as a money mule.

"Do not engage with them or give them your account details."

She said millions of dollars had been lost by New Zealanders in the past few months alone.

“Never give your personal banking information out over the phone and do not allow the caller to access your computer remotely – regardless of what company the caller claims to be from.

“If you think you may have been a victim of a scam, notify your bank immediately.”

A similar investigation by the Auckland City Financial Crime Unit into phone scams last year, Operation Deadwood, resulted in 18 people charged with money laundering offences.