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Kaikōura man part of criminal network accused of large-scale SMS scams charged following Department of Internal Affairs investigation

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A 28-year-old Kaikōura man has been charged as part of an investigation into a network responsible for most SMS scams in New Zealand in 2023.

The investigation uncovered a transnational criminal network to be behind the alleged large-scale text scamming.

A search warrant undertaken by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and police 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 as part of the DIA’s Operation Cargo.

DIA digital messaging and systems manager Joe Teo 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,” Teo said.

“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.”

Tasman organised crime manager Detective Senior Sergeant Shane Dye welcomed the charges.

“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,” Dye said.

How to get help

Internal Affairs anti-spam and scam awareness: Forward text scams for free to 7726

Cert NZ: Individuals, small businesses can report a cyber attack, get advice: www.cert.govt.nz

Financial Markets Authority: https://www.fma.govt.nz/scams/

Privacy Commissioner: Complaints about privacy breaches. 0800 803 909 or privacy.org.nz/your-rights/making-a-complaint/

ID fraud: Internal Affairs advice: dia.govt.nz/Identity – Are-you-a-victim-of-identity-theft

IDCare: Assistance freezing your credit record, regaining control of your online identity after an ID theft: idcare.org

Netsafe: Report online bullying, hate speech, dangerous content: netsafe.org.nz

NZ Police: Report cybercrime online scams, online child safety issues: police.govt.nz/advice-services/cybercrime-and-internet

If you believe you are or have been the victim of fraud, contact police at 105.police.govt.nz, or call police on 105.



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