Police search Auckland properties in relation to major global cybercrime scheme that's targeted thousands

New Zealand Police have joined international authorities to tackle a major cybercrime operation which targeted thousands of people worldwide. 

Working alongside Europol, police have executed three search warrants at Auckland properties relating to a multi-national operation. 

The scheme targeted the phishing as a service platform, LabHost. 

In a statement from police on Thursday, Cybercrime Investigator Detective Sergeant Richard Briscoe said police allege the platform enabled users to operate "phishing kit" websites. 

These imitated websites of real online services trick people, through text messages, into providing their banking, bank card or other online account credentials. 

"Offenders then use this information to fraudulently obtain funds or property," Det Sgt Briscoe explained. 

He said three addresses across Auckland have undergone search warrants by police on Wednesday. 

"As part of this ongoing investigation we identified three suspected LabHost users and this week were able to execute search warrants at a number of properties." 

"The searches were successful, with a number of computers, other electronic devices and documents seized." 

He said the materials will be analysed as part of the ongoing investigations. 

"Police and our partner agencies are committed to holding those who choose to engage in this type of offending to account." 

"We hope this serves as a warning to potential scammers that New Zealand authorities will not tolerate scams of any nature." 

Briscoe said from 2022, European law enforcement agencies were able to obtain a large amount of intelligence on LabHost, including data relating to the users of the platform. 

"Europol coordinated actions by law enforcement agencies worldwide, beginning with the arrest of the administrators of the platform on 15 April 2024, followed by arrests of LabHost users around the world." 

Investigations remain ongoing, and anyone who believes they are a victim of a scam is urged to contact police on 105 or online. 

Information can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.