Fraudsters target students with hacked bank accounts

International students from India are among the victims of a new scam that is increasing in Auckland City, according to the Police.

The criminals, who are yet to be identified and apprehended, choose their prey carefully and use them skilfully to take thousands of dollars from their bank account.

Following discussions with Detective Senior Sergeant and Constable Neil Pimenta of the Auckland City District Police, we met with Arjun Rawat (not his real name) an Engineering student at AUT to understand the problem.

He was a victim of a clever scheme to con people of money.

Illegal transfer

Arjun said that he was approached by Jasneet Singh, a fellow student two weeks ago with a request to allow $5000 to be credited to his ANZ bank account since he (Jasneet) did not have an account with the same Bank.

I withdrew the money in two quick instalments- $2000 from an ATM machine and the balance of $3000 from the Casino. The next morning, I found that $13 of own money had vanished from the bank account. I later heard from the bank saying that the amount ($5000) deposited into my account was hacked from another account and that I am liable to reimburse,” he said.

Arjun lodged a complaint with the Police, who told us that there were many other cases of this type and that Jasneet had taken a similar amount from another AUT student, known to Arjun.

“We have seen doubling of the number of members of the public being fooled by scams, particularly in the Auckland City area, in the last three months. A number of offenders have been identified and prosecuted or deported as a result. Complaints in Auckland alone have gone from occasional to daily. We regularly see hundreds of thousands of dollars attempted in fraud, each month, much of which the banks detect, but for some of which the mule becomes liable,” he said.

Some of the victims are also paid by the offenders, considering it a ‘friendly gesture.’’ Arjun said that he received $100 from Jasneet for his ‘timely help.’

Possible Prosecution

Detective Cristian Godoy, who is also involved in the investigation, told us that the victims are liable for prosecution as accessories to crime and that ignorance of the law cannot be cited as an excuse.

“Withdrawing money received from an unknown source can lead to serious consequences, although the Police take decisions on a case-by-case basis. We notice that Indian students are increasingly becoming targets by fraudsters,” he said.

Detective Pascoe said that Jasneet Singh was deported by immigration on an unconnected issue.

“But we are also keen to speak to a number of others whose identities have not been established. We seek public help,” he said.

Indian Newslink will publish further reports in its next issue.

Photo : Jasneet Singh 2. Unidentified faces wanted by the Police

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