Police warn of money 'washing' scam operating

20:13, Dec 08 2013

Business owners are being warned not to fall for a magical money washing trick.

The owners of a small Parnell business called police after two customers showed them how they could apparently turn one $50 note into three.

Money washing scams involve fraudsters telling their victims they can use special chemicals to duplicate cash notes on to blank paper, Detective Greg Brand from the Auckland City Financial Crime Unit says.

In the first instance they perform the trick in front of their victim.

The blank sheet is actually a real note which is covered in a white powder. It looks like the paper is being magically transformed into money as the powder washes off.

The tricksters then tell the victim they need to take the rest of their money away to convert it, but never return.

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The staff at the Parnell business had the presence of mind to realise it was a trick, thereby saving their money and also avoiding potential prosecution, Mr Brand says.

By agreeing to take part the business owner would have been conspiring to commit forgery.

Money washing scams are not common in New Zealand and often those behind them are not New Zealand nationals. The two men who approached the Parnell business were African.

"Usually they're here for a reason and they may travel around the country.

"They'll be targeting small businesses potentially.

"If it's too good to be true, it is, and should be ignored."

Email gregory.brand@ police.govt.nz with information.

East And Bays Courier