Police urge people to be aware of phone scammers as offenders remain at large

Ryan Bridge 24/09/2019
The wanted men. Photo credit: NZ Police / Supplied

Detective Sergeant Kevin Blackman joins Magic Talk Drive to discuss Police Operation Deadwood launched earlier this year after reports of people being targeted by the scammers.

More than a dozen people have been arrested in relation to the "sophisticated" phone scam which has seen New Zealanders lose millions of dollars.

Blackman tells host Ryan Bridge, “we still believe that the scam is managed from overseas.”

But New Zealand based offenders, called mules, are being used to launder money.

The detective Sergeant explains there are, “a number of different ways” people may be compromised by the scams.

Operation deadwood was launched a few months ago in response to the high reporting of this particular phone scam.

"At this stage 13 are arrested, there are a lot more out there that are involved."

Police are now seeking the public's assistance to help locate three more men who have warrants to arrest for money laundering. They are Manish Khan, 24, Tushar Prabhakar 21, and Hitesh Sharma, 22.

"These three men are believed to be in the Auckland area and have links in particular to south and east Auckland," Det Sgt Blackman says.

"They are also known to frequent the Auckland Airport area and Auckland central, including SkyCity."

When asked if the scam is still operating the Detective responds, “unfortunately it is, and I don’t think it’s going to stop.”

They will continue to try and rip people off.

It has been recorded that 2.5 million dollars has been lost to these scams but that figure comprises only those that have reported it to the police so there is likely much more money that has been lost to these scams.

This is predominantly a landline based scam.

The Sergeant reminds listeners that if you do receive a phone call be aware that no legitimate business or police official will ever call your to ask you to transfer money.

You can listen to the full interview above.