Scammers make deposits before cheating victims

A Blenheim woman advertising for a flatmate realised she was the target of a scam when thousands of dollars were deposited in her account.

Andrea Bormotova advertised for someone to share her Blenheim home on Trade Me and NZflatmates.

A woman claiming to be from South Africa contacted her through NZflatmates about a fortnight ago and said she was interested in moving to New Zealand.

She said her father wanted her to sort out a place to stay before she left South Africa.

"I thought she was coming to work in the vineyards," Ms Bormotova said.

"It sounded like she was from quite a responsible family."

After a few emails back and forth, the woman told her she would deposit money for rent in Ms Bormotova's bank account and that Ms Bormotova could transfer whatever was not needed back in to her account.

The room was $150 a week and Ms Bormotova asked for two weeks' rent in advance.

She told her mother, who told her to watch out because it sounded like a scam. She went to her bank and told them to watch her account.

On Monday morning last week, a man with a deep voice and a South African accent called her and asked if she had received the money. She checked her account to find $2300 had been deposited overnight.

The bank reversed the payment within hours after she asked them to, Ms Bormotova said.

That night, the same man called and asked if she had received the money and to transfer whatever the balance was to another account. The number he called from was an 027 number, she said.

She told him what he was doing was fraudulent but he didn't seem to understand her and demanded she reimburse him the money he was owed.

"Then he said ‘I'll ring you back on a clearer line', and hung up."

He never phoned back and Ms Bormotova began to worry about her safety.

"He knows my address," she said. "I began to think he might come around wanting to collect his money."

The bank told her it was probably a well organised effort.

The scam involves depositing a large amount of money into a victim's bank account. The scammer then asks for some of the money to be reimbursed. The idea is that the victim returns the money, only to find the initial large sum deposited has gone because the depositer has asked their credit card company to reverse the payment.

"People do get stung," Ms Bormotova said.

"People need to know if someone puts too much money into your account, don't reimburse anyone, because it's probably a scam."


The Marlborough Express