One of our members contacted us in a highly distressed state a few days ago. They had been scammed out of a significant amount of money, almost $20,000, in an online fraud where the scammer had gained control of their laptop and cleaned out their bank account. Fortunately, the victim’s bank had noticed some unusual activity and called them in the middle of the night to alert their customer. That didn’t go well as the customer thought the phone call was a scam and hung up on the bank.

Before you find yourself saying, “This couldn’t happen to me,” these scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated and downright evil in the techniques they use. They operate from offshore locations, making it hard to track them down and prosecute under New Zealand law. They target older adults who are more trusting and genuine in their belief that most people in the world are honest.

We urge members to contact your bank directly or Netsafe NZ for more information at 0508 638 723. NEVER give your pin or password to anybody over the phone. Your bank will not ask for it. And NEVER allow third party access to your computer. If you see a message from Team-viewer on your screen and things start moving on your computer without you doing anything, disconnect your computer from the power immediately and do not follow instructions from the person on the phone asking you to log in to your account for security reasons.

In the case of our member who was targeted in this scam, they were extremely fortunate to have all their money recovered by the bank. Most people are not. Once the funds move offshore, they are usually gone forever.