Thursday 04 December 2014
The thing about fraudsters is that they're really clever - frustratingly clever. This means we can't underestimate them.
Fraudsters are always looking for new ways to trick people into handing over personal information, usually by phone or email. That's why it's important to stay alert - especially if you're asked for information like your bank account details or passwords.
Here are some examples of everyday New Zealanders who have unwittingly fallen victim to recent scams - and some simple tips to make sure you don't become a victim too.
Love hurts – in the pocket
Jayden was looking for someone to share his life with – and when he found Cara on an internet dating site, he thought he’d found’ the one’. She had a difficult life - her husband had run off with another woman, leaving her destitute. But her faith had kept her strong, and now she was looking for a caring person to start a new life with.
Jayden couldn’t believe how compatible they were - Cara seemed to share almost all of his interests and had the same values. The only problem was that she lived in Asia – miles away. When Jayden offered to come and visit her, she told him she was embarrassed about her humble lifestyle and couldn’t face the thought of Jayden seeing her tiny, run-down apartment. When Jayden offered to pay for her airfares to New Zealand instead, her initial response was that she felt guilty because she couldn’t afford to pay her own travel. But the bond between them was so strong that eventually she agreed.
She told Jayden that if he could wire her some money through Western Union she could get her sister, a travel agent, to buy the tickets. Jayden sent through ten thousand dollars to cover the flights and expenses – and that was the last he ever heard from ‘Cara’. Not only had Jayden been jilted in love, he’d also been tricked out of his hard-earned savings.
Jane's Christmas cheer turns sour
When Jane got an email from her bank telling her she'd qualified for extra CashBack rewards on her credit card, she was over the moon. The extra cash was a godsend - especially with Christmas coming up.
All she had to do was click on the link to the bank's website, fill in her account number and PIN (to prove it was her), and the extra CashBack rewards would be added to her account. Jane wasn't sure at first - after all, she'd read something about email scams in the paper. But since this was an official email from the bank, she decided it was quite safe to provide the information.
Jane logged into her Internet Banking the next day to check if the CashBack rewards had come through. She was expecting a nice little present - but she got a very nasty surprise instead.
The email had looked genuine, but it was a clever fake. Jane had actually sent her account information and PIN to a scammer, who had used it to access her account and pay the entire balance to another account overseas. Suddenly, Jane’s Christmas was looking very bleak indeed.
Beth gets bitten by a money mule
Beth had worked hard and paid tax all her life. So when the Inland Revenue rang to tell her they’d been reviewing their records and found she’d paid too much tax, she was more than a bit annoyed. She was on the pension now and that money would have come in handy.
The nice young man on the phone apologised and told her they would be giving her a refund. But he also said that because it was the government, Beth first had to prove she was responsible and knew how the banking system worked. They would deposit $10,000 in her account, and she had to take it out and send it on to another country using Western Union (a money transfer service).
Beth did what he asked and waited for her refund – but it never came. When she rang the bank to ask where it was, they told her that the money the ‘Inland Revenue’ had deposited was actually stolen and she’d been used as a ‘money mule’ to launder it. In the process, she’d effectively wired $10,000 of her own money overseas. Beth found out too late that some people - and some things - are not what they seem.
Following some simple rules can go a long way towards keeping you safe from these types of scams.
- Don't share passwords or PIN numbers with anyone, even if it might seem legitimate. ANZ will never ask you to reveal your passwords or PINs.
- Always access Internet Banking by typing www.anz.co.nz into the address bar of your browser. Don't click on a link or attachment in an email.
- Remember - if an offer is too good to be true - it almost certainly is.
- Mobile devices are important parts of our lives (and banking) now. Make sure you protect them locking security like PINs, passwords, swipes or fingerprints as well.
- Be wary with people you don't know or haven't met in person - especially if they ask you to send them money. Also be wary if they ask you to receive money into your bank account, then withdraw some or all of it and send it overseas.