Police are warning business owners to be wary that scammers are currently using forged District Health Board invoices to swindle Kiwi businesses out of goods.
It is a similar scam to one which operated earlier this year, where scammers were sending out fake purchase orders, police said.
In this latest scam, using false email addresses, scammers have been sending forged purchase orders to businesses requesting the purchase of various items.
While the domain will look similar to the legitimate organisation, it will differ slightly with the use of full stops, dashes, or a slight rewording of the original name.
The purchase order directs the businesses to send the goods to a New Zealand freight company, which is then instructed by the scammers to forward to an overseas address.
Police are aware of one shipment from Christchurch that has made it out of the country and is destined for the UK and Asia, but there may have been more incidents.
This was not related to the current DHB purchase orders that have been identified.
With the co-operation of overseas domain registering companies, several domains have been shut down by police so far, however it appears that the scammers have now registered a domain similar to a New Zealand DHB.
“We are currently aware of three false District Health Board purchase orders that have been sent to separate New Zealand companies requesting goods for delivery to a freight company,” said Detective Sergeant Michael Cartwright, of the New Zealand Police Financial Crime Unit.
“We believe that all District Health Boards could be at risk of being targeted and, due to the large number of suppliers health boards have, we are concerned that this has the possibility to affect a large number of different businesses throughout New Zealand.
“Our advice to businesses is that if you receive an email that seems suspicious in terms of format, numbers, language or delivery addresses, contact the relevant organisation first to verify if it is actually from them before you send anything out.”
Poor English in the initial email is a common identifying factor for the scam, and the purchase orders will often have false phone numbers and email addresses on them.
“We ask that anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this scam, or anyone who has received a suspicious sounding email, please reports it to us immediately,” said Det Sgt Cartwright.
- Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this scam can contact their local Police Station or report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.