Monday, November 24, 2008

Malaysian pair admit NZ credit card fraud spree - - 20 Nov 08

A retired Malaysian police officer and his wife, both residents of Singapore, are being held in custody for sentence after admitting 63 charges of credit card fraud in New Zealand.

They admitted offending totalling $66,766 as part of a crime ring. The police are still looking for co-offenders known only as Kevin, Wayne, Sam, and Wong.

The pair pleaded guilty before Judge Tony Couch in Christchurch District Court today and were remanded in custody for sentence on December 19. They have been in custody since their arrest on September 10.

Suliaman Bin Haron is a 50 year old retired police officer from Malaysia, and his wife is Saerah Binte Men, aged 49, from Singapore.

The pair faced 81 charges each, but after talks between the police and defence counsel Christopher Persson, the total was dropped to 63 and the pair then pleaded guilty.

The judge asked for pre-sentence reports, and the police asked for time to obtain victim impact statements from retailers and banks which were defrauded by the pair.

Mr Persson said the pair acknowledged the $66,766 reparation total but the judge did not call for a reparation report indicating there was little prospect of repayment.

The guilty pleas were entered to 63 charges of dishonestly obtaining, using, or attempting to use documents, and conspiring to use documents.

The police say the offending involved obtaining and using cloned or counterfeit Mastercard and Visa credit cards and corresponding fraudulent photograph identification.

"The manufacture of a cloned or counterfeit credit card usually involves the skimming of card data," said the police.

"Skimming is the process whereby data stored on the magnetic strip of a legitimate card is copied without the knowledge of the card holder. This data is then transferred on to a fraudulently manufactured cloned card which is used undetected normally until the legitimate card holder checks their statement.

"A cloned card is one that contains the details of a genuine card. Both cards remain active and are read by merchant devices as being the same card."

In August 2008, Haron's Singaporean bookmaker offered the pair a cheap holiday in Australia and New Zealand. He told them that in exchange, they would have to buy things for some associates.

On August 18, they flew to Melbourne and then on to Auckland four days later.

They were met at Auckland Airport by someone named Kevin, and taken to their hotel.

The next day, Kevin and another man told them that while on holiday and sightseeing they would be supplied with credit cards and would have to buy things for them. They would earn money from the purchases.

They stayed a few days each at five hotels while in Auckland. Kevin provided them with cloned credit cards and went with them along Queen Street practising using the cards. At the end of each day, they returned the cloned cards and the goods to Kevin.

They bought four laptop computers, and various other items including clothing.

On August 29, they met two more associates of Kevin's, Wayne and Wong, and were given at least three more cards and flown to Queenstown.

There they tried to buy handbags and wallets worth $8035 but the transaction was initially declined. It was processed using different cards and the couple left with the goods and flew back to Auckland.

More purchases, including jewellery, clothing and food were made.

On September 10, Kevin provided them with more cards before they flew to Christchurch Airport, where the police caught them. They had 20 cloned or counterfeit Mastercard and Visa cards with them.

Haron said all their accommodation and travel had been arranged for them and he did not know anything more than the others' Christian names, Kevin, Wayne, Sam, and Wong.

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