Another year of scams ... and still too good to be true
It's a new year, bringing a new round of email and text message scams - or a new cycle of the same old scams - to South Canterbury.
Heather Smith was surprised - and skeptical - to receive a text message on her mobile phone Monday morning telling her she'd been selected to win £2.5 million in a "free lotto".
"Your mobile number was selected as a winner of £2,500.000.00 on FREE LOTTO with Draw number (#98181)," the message read, and included an email address to contact "for claims".
Unfortunately, she hadn't really struck it rich. The message was a variation on a familiar scam promising riches to lottery "winners" who had never actually entered a contest.
"And I was about to go out and buy the dog a diamond collar," she joked.
The simplest way to spot a lottery scam is if it's a contest you didn't enter, according to Consumer Affairs.
"The name of the lottery may be real, but your win is not," the agency explained on its website. "There are no lotteries that give out winnings to people who do not buy tickets. It just doesn't happen."
A Timaru man also reported receiving a more alarming message this week in the form of an email claiming to be written by a hit man. The message threatened to kill the recipient if he didn't pay out a large sum of money.
Instead, the man contacted Timaru police.
The death threat email scam is another familiar tactic that's made the rounds of Australasia, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
An earlier version of the scam circulated in text message form in 2008, the agency said on its SCAMwatch website.
In all instances, consumer protection agencies recommend people not respond to any suspicious messages that could be from scammers. Sending a response encourages scammers to work harder to get your money.
If you feel you have reason to fear for your safety, contact police.
To see information on common scams that have circulated in New Zealand, visit Consumer Affairs online at www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/scams.
For information on lottery scams, go to http://www.consumeraffairs.govt.nz/scams/scam-types/lottery-and-competition-scams.
The Timaru Herald