A scam using forged District Health Board invoices to swindle New Zealand businesses out of goods has prompted a warning from police.

A joint statement from Neighbourhood Support Rotorua and Rotorua police said a similar scam operated earlier this year where scammers were sending out fake purchase orders.

Using false email addresses, scammers have been sending forged purchase orders to businesses requesting the purchase of various items.

The purchase order requested the companies send the goods to a New Zealand freight company, who are then instructed by the scammers to forward the goods on to an overseas address.


While the domain looked similar to the legitimate organisation it differed slightly with the use of full stops, dashes, or a slight rewording of the original name.

Police were aware of one shipment from Christchurch that has made it out of the country and was destined for the UK and Asia, but there may have been more incidents.

This was not related to the current District Health Board purchase orders that have been identified.

With the co-operation of overseas domain registering companies, several domains had been shut down by police, however it appeared the scammers had now registered a domain similar to a New Zealand District Health Board.

"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 New Zealand Police Financial Crime Unit Detective Sergeant Michael Cartwright,

"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," he said.

Poor English in the initial email was a common identifying factor for the scam and the purchase orders would 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 Mr Cartwright.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of this scam can either contact their local police Station or report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.