New Zealanders lose $12m to scams

Kiwis have lost more than $12 million so far this year to scammers.

Kiwis have lost more than $12 million so far this year to scammers.

Vulnerable Kiwis falling victim to scams seems to be endless, with more than 8000 calls to NetSafe over the past year.

As a result, people have lost in excess of $12 million to scammers between January and November.

Here are some of the worst – and most unusual scams – this year.

1. "You've been caught watching porn": Android users scammed with fake police 'fines' for viewing porn

A message claiming to be from the police cyber crime unit and the GCSB told Android users they had to pay a $200 fine for accessing pornography or illegally shared movies.

The message was scaring people into thinking they had done something wrong, when that was not necessarily the case.

The scam was caused by people clicking on Facebook newsfeed links, downloading music or viewing legal pornography.

2. Falling in love can be a dangerous game - man loses $45k in romance scam on social media

An elderly man lost $45,000 after he was duped in an elaborate romance scam on Facebook.

The North Canterbury man developed a relationship with a scammer online, who used a female profile, to lure him in. She claimed she needed $1500 from the man to pay lawyers fees to free up an $800,000 inheritance. She sent him fake documentation to back up her claims.

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The scammer also asked the man to cover the cost for a sick child. Unexpected bills and "hard times" were among the other methods used to dupe the man who transferred $45,000 in total.

Police say there is little they can do to recoup the man's losses after he made untraceable payments over several months. As a result, he may be forced to sell his house and spend his retirement working.

3. Aucklanders caught up in Skype sex scam

In September, at least six South Auckland men were blackmailed after engaging in "intimate activities" over Skype.

They had all been Skyping with people overseas, who recorded the footage and used it to try and extort money from their victims.

4. Scammers pretended to be cops

Brazen thieves impersonated police to obtain pin numbers for bank cards swiped from elderly residents' homes.

In one case, a resident was gardening outside when a bold thief snuck inside and took their bank cards to execute the scam.

The offenders stole banks cards then phoned their victims claiming to be a police officer investigating the case and asked for a pin number to verify identity. 

5. Heartless scammers crush 4-year-old's Rubgy World Cup dream

Generous offers came in from all over the world for the four-year-old girl and her mum after they found out their Rugby World Cup tickets were fake.

Little Lexi Dailey was set to support the ABs at their first game against Argentina at Wembley Stadium in London alongside mum Gillian Dailey.

But overnight, Lexi's mum found out their tickets to the sold-out game were part of a scam after she phoned the number listed on the website and it was answered with a message from the UK Fraud office.

She had forked out $1800 for seven tickets. 

6. Stuff was left red-faced after scammers created a fake website to 'sell' iPhones for $1

In October, a flurry of social-media based scams were attempting to trick Kiwis by offering brand new iPhone 6s to "test".

Some also offered exclusive access to the iPhone 7, which nobody outside of Apple will see until late 2016. Other offers stated Apple was "desperate" for market share, and were frantically giving away phones to compete.

One of the scams was being run through a page designed to look like a CNN and the BBC also became targets.

7. Finance boss at Te Wananga O Aotearoa falls for an email scam and sends more than $100k to an off-shore account

The tertiary institute was left scrambling to recover more than $100,000 sent to offshore fraudsters, after its chief financial officer fell for an email "whaling" scam.

Bronwyn Koroheke transferred $US79,000 ($118,000) to an offshore bank account after receiving an email which appeared to be from her chief executive Jim Mather telling her to send the money.

But, in fact, the email was from Chinese-based fraudsters running a whaling scam, so-called because it targets an organisation's top executives, or "big fish".

It's one of the largest amounts of money sent from a New Zealand organisation to offshore email scammers.

8. Our very own fire service has also fallen victim to scammers this year

The Fire Service launched an urgent investigation into how it was reportedly scammed out of tens of thousands of dollars.

The service was said to have lost about $50,000 in a "bizarre" purchase of some kind from Turkey.

9. Oh, and, then one week before Christmas, hundreds of Kiwibank customers were hit by an international bank card scam

A skimming device attached to ATM machines in Kapiti helped scammers obtain the account numbers and pin numbers of hundreds of customers just days before Christmas.

These details were sent overseas to likely make fake cards that are used to withdraw money from international ATMs.

10. The list wouldn't be complete without a scam that never goes away

The phone scam epidemic that plagued New Zealanders in 2011 came back this year, and this time the scammers were greedier and their tactics more ugly.

Hundreds of Kiwis laid complaints about scammers cold-calling people claiming their computers had malware and needed fixing.

In the past, people lost sums in the hundreds of dollars, paying $299 or $499 for the 'service'. This time around, they were losing thousands.

The scammers usually claimed they were working for Microsoft in tech support, though they had in the past also claimed to work for victims' internet service providers.


 - Stuff


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