A Port Waikato resident has been arrested following a multi-agency investigation led by the Serious Fraud Office into an advertising invoice scam.
SFO acting chief executive Simon McArley said the group allegedly sold up to $1.6 million of advertising in magazines that were either never printed, or the number of magazines that were printed and circulated was grossly exaggerated.
"The magazines were generally titled in a way that suggests worthwhile causes in subjects such as road safety, parenting or drug addiction," Mr McArley said.
He confirmed six people had been arrested in Auckland, Port Waikato and Picton and charged with multiple fraud offences and participating in a organised criminal group.
Dubbed Operation Edit, the investigation involved more than 60 personnel from the police, the Organised and Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand, the Commerce Commission, New Zealand Customs and Inland Revenue.
"The agencies were able to each contribute specialist skills and achieve a result that none working alone would have been able to," Mr McArley said.
"High volume/low value fraud is particularly difficult to address effectively, and this is a good example of agencies bringing together their skills from within their existing resources to address this."
Mr McArley said invoicing scams cost New Zealand businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and that small businesses and charities were often the target.
"While the dollar amount of alleged offending is not huge, taking action in relation to high volume/low value fraud is important.
"Overall there can be a significant impact on the economy.
"By tackling this problem we build the business community's confidence in the market and enhance legitimate economic activity," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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