Four Canadians who came to New Zealand with the sole purpose of large-scale fraud have been jailed for stealing over $670,000 in an eftpos skimming scam.
Chea Sina, Kevin Roberto Flores Roldan, Mario Rivera and William Alexander Rivera-Rivas admitted charges of being part of an organised criminal group and of fraud in November last year.
The men were convicted and jailed for four-and-a-half years each when they appeared at the Auckland District Court on Friday.
Crown prosecutor Mark Williams told the court the group arrived in Auckland in March 2012 with the sole intention to commit a large-scale fraud.
Judge Phil Gittos said the men stole 27 eftpos machines from 23 retail stores in Auckland and Hamilton, modified them with skimming equipment, then put them back to capture customers' bank details.
"There can be no question but that people who come here deliberately to defraud the banking system in that way, or in any other way, need to be dealt with with some severity by the court."
The judge said more than $670,000 was taken within a few weeks, but accepted it would be a fruitless task to try and recover that money.
Outside court, Detective Sergeant Russ Bagley said a clear message has been sent to international criminals that if they come to New Zealand to defraud banks they will be caught and jailed.
Mr Bagley says police, Customs and the financial sector worked together to track the group down.