Contraband - NZ Customs

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Nigerian scammers target New Zealand online job seekers

Customs is warning job seekers to be aware of a Nigerian scam targeting New Zealanders applying for jobs online. This follows the interception of counterfeit bank cheques destined for a New Zealand ‘agent’ unwittingly recruited through their response to an online job advert.

Customs’ Investigations Manager Shane Panettiere says Customs intercepted 364 counterfeit bank cheques with a face value of $2.5 million. The cheques were of high quality and could have been accepted as genuine by the recipients.

“It appears the intended recipients were instructed to cash the cheques at a bank, retain a small proportion of the money, and send the balance offshore. Fortunately the scam was discovered at an early stage and no financial victims have been identified.”

Customs’ enquiries revealed an employment scam where applicants for jobs posted on well-known websites would receive the counterfeit cheques via the ‘agent’ as payment for administrative assignments.

“New Zealanders applying for jobs online should check the authenticity of the recruiting organisations before providing CVs or contact and bank account details to unknown individuals,” says Mr Pannettiere.

These types of scam have resulted in victims sending large amounts of money to Nigeria that cannot be recovered.

Recent amendments to the Customs and Excise Act 1996 have increased Customs’ ability to intercept items designed to facilitate dishonesty offences. Penalties for knowingly importing goods of this kind may include a maximum $10,000 fine or up to six months’ imprisonment.

Customs works closely with the New Zealand Police Financial Crime Unit, overseas agencies, and domestic financial institutions when investigating these types of crime.

Concerned members of the public can contact Customs on 0800 4 CUSTOMS (0800 428 786).

Details of how you can protect yourself from scams can be found on the Scamwatch section of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ website