Beware of these other common scams
Scammers are often based overseas where New Zealand laws don’t apply. Watch out for the following common scams.
Technical support scams
These scams involve a phone call or a pop-up chat screen on your computer from someone claiming to be a technical support staff member from a well-known computer software company or ISP provider (names like Microsoft, Spark, Vodafone and Chorus are commonly used). The scammer will request remote access to your computer in order to fix an error or virus, or give you a free security assessment. Once they get remote access they can then record and use your internet banking passwords, find and take your credit card details, and use your personal information for identity fraud.
Employment and visa scams
Online employment scams involve offers to work from home or invest in a business opportunity. These scams are promoted via spam emails or online advertisements. Most of these ads are not real job offers. Many of them are fronts or gateways for illegal scams such as:
- money-laundering, eg mystery shopper adverts where you are overpaid and asked to wire the extra funds to a different account usually overseas
- pyramid-selling schemes with poor quality, overpriced products that are hard to sell
- upfront-payment fraud, eg employment seminars and visa schemes.
Cheap holiday deals: These deals are never what they seem. It pays to do your homework. Make sure holiday and travel deals are genuine, so that you don’t end up disappointed – and still at home. Also watch out for free holiday vouchers where all you have to do is pay a nominal fee using your credit card details and you’ll receive some fake vouchers. Being scammed by fake visa sites online is common too.
Major event deals: Scammers will often take advantage of major events like the Olympics or the Rugby World Cup. It's a good idea to be particularly alert to potential scams if you are booking travel or accommodation for a major event.
Health and medical scams
The health and weight loss industry is a booming business. Scammers offer you ‘miracle’ health products to cure a problem such as arthritis, diabetes, or cancer, or to help you lose weight. The seller often promises a no-risk, money-back guarantee or a free trial. Often these claims are not based on scientific evidence and may be illegal under the Fair Trading Act.
Fake rental properties: Fake rentals may be placed on a genuine rental property website. You are given the address or some photos. After paying a deposit in advance you find out it’s a scam.
Fake flatmates: In this scam, fake flatmates send you money by cheque or bank transfer in response to an advert for flatmates. It is more than you asked for. The scammer then asks for a partial refund to be sent to another party acting as their agent. After you’ve refunded the money, you’ll find that the payment is invalid. The cheque has bounced or the transaction has been reversed.
Natural disasters are often the trigger for fake charity scams. Scammers asked for money after the earthquakes in Haiti and Christchurch. Scammers know that they can play on your emotions. Some scammers set up lotteries and sell tickets. They say the proceeds will be going to charity when only a tiny fraction of the money raised goes to the charity.
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