A 26-year-old man accused of scamming people out of nearly $400,000 has pleaded not guilty and been denied bail at his first court appearance.
The man was arrested after police carried out a search warrant at a house in the Christchurch suburb of Hornby this morning.
It came after an investigation into alleged serious fraud offences, police said.
He has been charged with eight counts of causing loss by deception and appeared from custody via audio visual link (AVL) at Christchurch District Court this afternoon.
Detective Sergeant Mike Freeman, in a press statement earlier, alleged that the man scammed victims out of $500,000.
However, eight charging documents laid in court allege offending between June 23 and September 3 this year, and amounting to $395,189.64.
Amounts range from $3700 to $147,000, with the bank Westpac named as victim in seven of the eight charges, and the Cooperative Bank in one charge.
It’s understood that the police investigation is ongoing and more charges are possible.
Defence counsel Anselm Williams said the man pleaded not guilty to the charges and elected trial by jury.
He applied for interim name suppression on fair trial grounds which was granted by Judge Tony Couch.
However, the judge declined an application for bail, which was opposed by police, and remanded the man in custody to his next appearance at a Crown case review hearing on December 16.
A 32-year-old woman was also arrested and has been charged with possession of
methamphetamine and causing loss by deception relating to alleged offending
that occurred overnight where a victim was scammed out of $28,000.
She is due to appear at Christchurch District Court next week.
“As this is an active investigation with ongoing inquiries, we are limited in
providing further details at this time,” Freeman said.
“We do however acknowledge the victims’ losses in these cases and we
appreciate how disappointing it is to fall victim to fraudsters.”
Fraud is a significant problem in New Zealand and globally, the senior officer added.
“Police have been liaising with the victims to provide them with prevention
advice and recommendations to help prevent them being targeted by fraudsters,” said Freeman.
“We also urge the public to never give out your credit card or banking details
over the phone, even if the caller purports to be from a reputable company.”
If anyone is ever asked for these details, police advise that they hang up and phone the company back on their publicly listed number and report the call.