A foreign student in Northland has been scammed of $38,000 after threats he would be arrested by Chinese police if he did not pay up.

And a second student was also contacted by people purporting to be Chinese police officers, but refused to pay after he became suspicious.

The scam has been reported to Whangārei police and detectives are investigating.

Detective Nick Pirihi said the student who paid the money had received calls from China from people in late May, saying they were police and other officials and they had arrested a person in China for money laundering and they had in their possessions a money card with the student's name on it.


"They told the student he was implicated in the offending and was asked to transfer money to a bank account in Hong Kong in order to make the matter go away."

Contact with the Northland student was via various phone applications and involved a number of different people. The money was paid but contact by the Chinese police continued. The student then went to police in Whangārei.

A second student was also involved in a similar conversation with foreign 'Chinese police' but contacted police here and did not pay.

Due to cultural differences the student who forked out $38,000 may have felt compelled to pay. However, Pirihi said in New Zealand police would not demand money from members of the public.

"If anyone is asking for money be suspicious. If you do have any doubts contact police and we will look into matters like this," Pirihi said.

He said police were contacting police in China to see if there was any way the money could be returned and who might be responsible.

A third Northtec student came forward after students were alerted saying she had been contacted online and encouraged to download a phone application, put her details in and then $150 was taken from her account

As a result of the scam, Whangārei police have organised a public meeting for international students and the wider migrant community which would cover how New Zealand police operate, driving laws, banking and general safety information for living in New Zealand.

Pirihi said a police ethnic liaison officer from Auckland would be at the meeting.

Northtec's director of development Phillip Alexander-Crawford said he was unable to comment on the matter by deadline yesterday.

It is not the first time Chinese students studying in New Zealand have been targeted.

In May this year phone scammers were using a fake kidnapping to scam the families of Chinese Kiwis and international students.

Auckland police said people have reported receiving automated messages, claiming to be from the Chinese Consulate.

Those who have followed the instructions in the message have spoken to a person who convinced them to provide their personal details.

They were also asked to provide the details of family members who lived in China.

Police said the scammers then phoned the family members in China, claiming their New Zealand relatives have been kidnapped, and demanded money.

*The meeting will be held at Northtec in lecture theatre D340 on July 30, 10am-12pm.