Two Romanian nationals who scammed more than 100 New Zealanders out of $75,380 have been jailed.
Ionut Alexandru Oprescu, 31, and Victor Ionut Ghenadi, 36, were arrested in January for importing and possessing card skimming equipment, designed to help people obtain others' credit card details.
The duo, who are believed to have ties with international criminal syndicates, arrived in Auckland from Dubai in November last year.
Customs opened an investigation into the pair in January, after a tip-off from a courier driver led to the seizure of two packages sent from London.
Declared as a "musical box" and a "laptop without hard disk", both packages actually hid card skimming devices.
The same month Oprescu and Ghenadi's home was searched and they were arrested.
Oprescu was trying to hide items in the roof cavity when Customs and police officers raided the men's rented Hobson St apartment, Customs says.
"A large number of parts, tools and equipment used to make card skimming devices, a completed and functional skimming device, blank cards, and a card writer machine were also found," Customs said.
"Hidden inside Ghenadi's pillow were numerous cards – such as Bonfire, Smiggle, JB Hi-Fi and Countdown / AA Smartfuel cards – that were loaded with financial information linked to victims' credit cards."
Ghenadi was caught at a restaurant with a loaded Farmers card in his wallet, and a search of his rented car found the moulding clay used to assemble the skimming devices.
Analysis of their computer recovered 122 bank card numbers, providing evidence of the $75,380 that was stolen from many victims.
Bank deposit slips and chat conversations also showed that between mid-December and mid-January, $43,550 of the $75,380 was cashed and deposited into an account to be converted into cryptocurrency.
Electronic forensic analysis of the men's phones located images of various bank ATMs, and carpark and petrol station payment machines.
A USB hard drive attached to a pinhole camera, found in the apartment, showed videos of people entering their pin access codes while using a machine.
Customs Investigations manager Bruce Berry says the pair travelled to New Zealand with the sole purpose of committing fraud, and "had no qualms about stealing funds from hard-working New Zealanders".
"Customs works closely with law enforcement and industry partners to prevent exactly this type of illegal behaviour," he said.
"Quick and collaborative work by Customs and others ensured that many more innocent people did not lose their money.
"The two packages that hid the skimming devices were actually addressed to the homes of innocent occupiers, which is a common method used by criminals for smuggling illegal commodities such as drugs, tobacco and skimming equipment."
Both men were convicted for importing devices for a dishonest purpose, altering documents with intent to obtain by deception, manufacturing goods with intent to facilitate a crime involving dishonesty and dishonestly using a document.
Ghenadi was also convicted for money laundering.
At Auckland District Court today, Oprescu was sentenced to two years five months' imprisonment and Ghenadi was sentenced to three years' imprisonment.
Berry thanked the courier driver and company, as the driver had refused to hand over a package when approached on the street by one of the men trying to collect it.
The courier company then alerted Customs, triggering an investigation.
"Customs works closely with courier companies to ensure they are aware of known criminal behaviours," Berry said.
"By advising Customs of suspicious deliveries they have played an important part in helping to protect our communities."
Can you help? If a package or delivery seems suspicious, call 0800 4 CUSTOMS (0800 428 786) in confidence, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously.