Scam alert raised

A wave of scammers are targeting Waipa residents.

A Te Awamutu Community safety officer is warning residents to be alert to a wave of scams.

Mandy Merson says scammers are using a variety of tactics to snare people – and take their money or identity.

One Te Awamutu woman’s suspicions were aroused when, after talking to scammers posing as Amazon staff, they called back seeking the three-digit code on the back of her credit card.

A call to her bank put an end to their game – but not before they had been able to view private details.

CommSafe community safety officer Mandy Merson.

The case is one highlighted by Merson in her April report, where she says she has seen an email trail which had started the chain of events.

“Basically, the resident had done an online Amazon order and then by coincidence she has received an email.”

She made a call and was convinced to let the “Support Team” help her set up a program on her cell phone so she would no longer need to phone them.

The scammers had the woman download an app which gave them access to personal details.

“The only reason she realised they had scammed her is they phoned back asking for her three-digit ID for the card.”

Realising what was going on, she phoned her bank and was able to stop any transactions from occurring.

Merson said she was “happy to say” the woman had shared the information with Neighbourhood Support and her plea was to share the experience, so others don’t get caught out.

Scammers rely on good nature and coincidences and the surprise factor.

One scam email doing the rounds suggests people owe a road toll fee – and risk huge fines if they don’t follow instructions. One example shown to The News went to a 15-year-old who didn’t have a licence, let alone a car – but the scammers will be banking on success elsewhere.

“We are being targeted by the opportunist scam messages via text and email,” Merson said. “There have been several reports and many people across the country have, unfortunately, been victims to these.”

She said text scam messages usually came from a very long number or an area code that is unusual.

“Email addresses look similar at a first glance but if you actually look at the entire address it is only using part of a company’s name. If you click on the link sent in a text or email, they do often look similar to the real websites but have an overseas abbreviation.”

Organisations most often mimicked by scammers discussing fake bills and parcels – or seeking detail verifications – include Waka Kotahi, NZ Post, banks and Inland Revenue.

“I urge people to check in with family and friends, especially elders to make sure they are aware of these.

Stay safe…

Scam fighter Netsafe is an independent, non-profit online safety organisation which has been helping people for more than 20 years.

Here are some of the things they say readers should watch out for:

  • Contact comes “out of the blue”.

  • You are told there is a problem at your end, and an offer is made to fix it.

  • You are asked for passwords or to “verify” account details.

  • You are invited to move outside an online trading or booking website or app (like Air BnB).

  • You are offered a prize in exchange for something.

  • You are asked for money by people you’ve met online.

  • You are asked to provide remote access to your device by someone you have not actively sought out.

  • You are pressured to make a quick decision and threatened with consequences if you don’t.

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