An Auckland man has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges of money laundering worth $1.7 million dollars in the Manukau District Court this morning.
His court appearance follows his earlier arrest at a South Auckland address on Tuesday, and the seizure of a number of documents and computer equipment.
The judge today ruled his identity remain suppressed till his next appearance, on the basis it could damage his reputation and business.
Court documents detailing the charges allege the victims’ losses range from $50,000 to $1 million. Among them is Auckland man Deepak, who asked that his last name, and his face, not be used.
Today is his 33rd wedding anniversary, but rather than celebrating, he spent most of the morning in court. It was important to him to follow the case as it proceeds through the justice system.
He’d reported his loss of $100,000 to police back in June last year. He said he’d invested his money in what he thought was a government-backed bond scheme in Australia.
“I feel like I’ve let my whole family down, I should have been more cautious in my approach. It’s a very difficult feeling to have and live with and I’m living with it every day.”
Deepak reported it to police and called on the support of private investigator Nick Mayer who also gathered information which he shared with police. Mayer has credited Deepak for coming forward.
“You don’t often get the opportunity to link a number of victims,” Mayer said.
The investigator said it’s also challenging to get cases before the court, when many scammers are based overseas.
“Usually the money is gone, it is sent offshore, and authorities are chasing shadows,” he said. “This is different as we identified people in New Zealand and Australia.”
Detective Senior Sergeant Ryan Bunting said this week’s arrest is a significant development in what’s been a complex investigation involving local authorities and their partners offshore.
Investigations are ongoing, but the detective was unable to elaborate further.
Bunting said unfortunately there’s no shortage of fraud cases, and they are getting increasingly sophisticated.
“Fake investment scams, and other scams are increasingly common. They are perpetrated by organised criminal groups, usually based overseas. They are highly professional and they are well-resourced to try and obtain funds from hard-working New Zealanders.
“Some of the victims who report these scams to police are astute business people, and other professionals, and they’ve still fallen prey to these criminals.”
Netsafe chief executive Brent Carey said it’s important that anyone who suspects fraud reports it as soon as possible.
“No matter the size of the money-loss, reporting a scam helps us build up intelligence and disrupt the fraudster.”
He said there are also a number of online tools people can use to check potential scams, and if in doubt seek advice.