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Christchurch Central Police have been approached by at least three males in the last week or so who have come to Reception to report a scam - which starts and finishes overseas but which might result in some sizable losses to local residents.
Senior Constable Kirk Newman says the current scams starts when the NZ resident advertises something on line - eg property for rent etc.
"The resident receives an e-mail, out of the blue, from a person,sometimes a female, about 26 years old, perhaps employed as an I &T manager for a company in South Africa. The e-mails are always chatty and designed to make the NZ resident view them as a friend rather than a complete stranger.
"They send some e-mails backwards and forwards with the NZ resident and say that 'she' is coming to New Zealand on holiday and then out of the blue tells the NZ resident that they are somebody that they can trust and then send them several thousands of US dollars in (forged) Travellers cheques," he says.
The travellers cheques are printed on a lighter and cheaper paper and there are no water marks etc, but look compelling and are usually in $US500 vouchers and are unsigned.
The "baddie" then sends further chatty e-mails and then finally one to the NZ resident that says that by mistake her assistant sent too much money and that if they were to take out some of the money for their troubles/expenses and send the balance back by Western Union and give another name for it to be sent to. They are even very helpful, says Kirk Newman, to give the name and address of the nearest Western Union outlet to them - in one address they gave was for an outlet in Warkworth, North Auckland - which is just a wee step from Christchurch!
Envelope or e-mails never have a return address. The envelopes usually have a stamp from the country of origin and are franked but not clear enough to read.
"Once money is put into Western Union it will vanish and can be accessed anywhere in the world - not just where the "baddies" say that they are living," says Kirk Newman.
"The poor unsuspecting NZ resident then goes into his/her bank to cash the travellers cheques - only to find that they are forgeries and they have sent money - sometimes up to many thousands of dollars overseas."
Several years ago a similar scam was happening and the envelopes were not stamped and looked like they had been sent from overseas but were just too unmarked/ creased/clean to have come from overseas.
Senior Constable Newman says it really a form of money laundering.
The informant and the person who gave police the forged travellers cheques, do not wish any publicity, nor does he want to be interviewed - merely wants to do the right thing to help other unsuspecting NZ residents.
Senior Constable Kirk Newman says he has $US 5,000 worth of forged Visa (Toshiba) travellers cheques from a recent complainant which he is happy for the media to view and to photograph.
Senior Constable Newman is in the office Tuesday this week
Senior Constable Kirk Newman, Customer Services Section,
Central Police Station, Christchurch,
Ph: 0064-(03) 363-7655.