Dunedin woman loses $15,000 to phone scam

A woman was swindled out of $15,000 by a phone scammer, sparking a stern warning for the public to be vigilant.

Sergeant Gemma McKenzie, of Dunedin, said the 69-year-old Dunedin woman was phoned on Friday night by someone claiming to be a Spark employee, and was told her account was being hacked.

Personal information was obtained by the caller.

When the woman checked her bank account afterwards, she saw that $15,000 had been withdrawn without her consent.

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said thousands of scam calls were made and emails sent out in New Zealand each week.

“It’s just super common, unfortunately.”

Educating people was important, as were technology solutions employed by banks to prevent scammers accessing money.

It could be tough for police to catch scammers, however, as many were based overseas.

There was a lot of advice on Netsafe’s website to help people stop themselves falling prey to scammers, he said.

A police spokeswoman said various phone scams could be operating nationwide at any one time and while some of the details varied, the general premise was usually the same.

Often, the caller would suggest the person’s account had been hacked or that their internet is about to be disconnected, and ask for personal information in order to rectify the issue.

People should not automatically trust someone over the phone or online whom they had not met. They should ask for credentials if someone said they were from a business, and if a call seemed suspicious, they should hang up immediately.

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

“And remember, if something looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

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