Police warn about phone scammers

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Do not trust anyone calling on the phone and asking about financial details. Hang up immediately.

That is the advice police are giving the public after the latest in a string of phone scam attempts in Central Otago.

Last week, a 90-year-old Alexandra man was nearly scammed out of a “significant amount” of money by a company selling holidays.

In March, an elderly couple lost several hundred dollars after a caller claimed to be from Microsoft and gained access to their computer, and another woman had about $15,000 taken from her bank account last year after a caller gained her banking details by pretending to be from a power company.

Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk, of Alexandra, said it was important not to trust anyone who called and asked for financial information.

“Look after your personal details in the same way you would your wallet and other possessions,” he said.

“Scammers .. will use your details to take out loans or run up debts if they can.”

He warned residents to hang up immediately if they believed they were being targeted by a scammer.

Immigration New Zealand, banks, and Inland Revenue would never email, call or text customers to ask for money using transfer services, he said.

In the most recent case, a man was contacted by a company selling holidays in hotels, which incorrectly claimed he had stayed in a company motel in 2009 and was due a refund.

Sen Sgt Kerrisk said the man was told to purchase $500 worth of New World vouchers before a company representative would come to his house and give him a $A2495 cheque he could claim as a tax credit.

But quick thinking by local banking staff thwarted the scam, he said.

staff realised that something was wrong when the man went to the bank to access his funds, Sen Sgt Kerrisk said.

“It was bank staff who accompanied him to the Alexandra Police Station, as they were worried that he was about to be scammed and police thank the bank staff for looking out for the victim.”

Police then went to the victim’s house and waited for the call from the hotel company. Sen Sgt Kerrisk said the caller had an accent, was very insistent and swore at the man.

“He hung up and another man with an accent then called again and attempted to get .. the voucher code numbers. He, too, was very aggressive.

“On the final call, police answered the phone and identified themselves but the call went dead straight away.”

Sen Sgt Kerrisk said the call came from overseas.

Anyone believing they have been targeted by a scam is urged to report it immediately by visiting Consumer Protection’s Scamwatch website at www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/get-guidance/scams-and-online-safety/scams.