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Beware pin and win scam

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 25/06/2014

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Business owners targeted by an increasingly common scam are warning others not to fall into the same trap.

At least four Parnell Rd businesses have been hit by the scam which involves victims being phoned and asked to think of a four-digit number to receive a prize they've "won".

The victims have had their wallets stolen just a few hours earlier and the call is an attempt by thieves to get the pin number to their bank cards.

Shopkeepers who spoke to the East & Bays Courier fear they're easy targets because they're often busy and distracted.

On June 12 two women visited a clothing store on Parnell Rd.

While the shop owner was assisting one of them the other found the owner's handbag and took her wallet.

The owner then got a call to say she had won a $500 supermarket voucher - before she realised her wallet was missing.

The shop owner provided five different numbers to the caller. She was told they "couldn't be verified".

She has since realised that the thieves would have been trying to use the numbers she gave to get money from her card at an ATM.

Eventually she gave her credit card pin. Just over $1000 was taken from her account.

"I never would of thought I would give out my bank pin number in a million years, but I did," she says.

Another business owner was hit in the week before Christmas when her store was at its busiest.

"We're reasonably intelligent people. You're never 100 per cent focused on one thing and that's what they count on," she says.

"Your pin number is often the first thing you think of."

The woman was told she had won a prize from the AA.

"Because I have an AA card it makes it plausible," she says.

The owner of the clothing store posted pictures of the two women on social media and got an overwhelming response from people offering support or sharing stories of being scammed in a similar way.

Police in the Waitemata and Auckland City districts are investigating 13 similar cases.

Police say the offenders are very convincing.

"Because the callers aren't outright asking for your pin number, it's easy to be tricked," sergeant Mike Flatt says.

"A lot of people, if asked to think of a four-digit number, would give the same number they use as their pin.

"It's possible that the offenders have used other business names with similar scenarios and we'd like to hear from anyone who has had their cards recently stolen and then experienced this type of phone call."

Auckland City police can be contacted on 302 6400. Or report information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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- East And Bays Courier

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