Scams are illegal schemes for enticing people to hand over personal information and/or money under false pretences. These schemes are operated online, over the phone or through the post – sometimes a combination.
Scams result in identity theft for many fraudulent purposes and of course, the direct theft of money paid to scammers most of whom live overseas. They catch New Zealanders in every walk of life and of all ages.
If somebody asks you to make a quick decision – stop and think
Prize draw scams
These are attractive brochures and/or scratch-and-win cards indicating the receiver has won an exciting prize draw. Often the prize is an overseas holiday. Usually these scams are operated through the post to households. The scammer asks the “lucky winner” to respond with personal information and/or some payment to secure the prize.
Email and phishing scams
These are unsolicited emails requesting information, money or some form of online response. Some are “phishing” emails prompting the recipient to click a link which takes them to a website that mimics their bank or another service provider.
The pretexts are many and varied – a fake offer of products or vouchers, a plea for donation to a false charity overseas, bogus notification of change to a familiar online banking page. The scammer seeks to obtain confidential log-in information, a person’s identity details and/or payment for fake goods or services.
If somebody tells you an offer has to be kept secret – be alerted
Taxpayer targeting scams
These are cold-calls or emails from a scammer posing as an Inland Revenue (IR) official. The scammer might offer a tax refund or warn of impending IR action on the person’s tax affairs and insist on providing information or paying overdue tax. In some cases, the scammer will pose as a non-IR tax refund specialist.
Don’t be afraid to double check
Boiler room or ‘cold call’ investment scams
‘Boiler rooms’ are makeshift offices set up by a team of fraudsters offering non-existent, worthless or overpriced investments.
It’s illegal to sell investments through a cold call in New Zealand. Hang up.
Members of the boiler room will convince you to make a small initial payment, then introduce many different reasons why you need to make a larger payment. You’ll be directed to a professional looking website and you’ll receive calls from ‘senior’ employees like the Vice President or CEO. These fraudsters appear professional. By the time you realise it’s a scam, they will have moved on and won’t answer your calls. Watch John’s story – one experienced Kiwi investor’s real life experience of a cold call share scam.