1 Jul 2019

Phone scammers posing as police con hundreds of NZers

12:09 pm on 1 July 2019

Phone scammers claiming to be police "trapping" criminals have scammed New Zealanders of sums now believed to total hundreds of thousands of dollars, police warn.

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Photo: 123rf.com

Police said they had received a significant number of reports of the scam, which involves callers pretending to be from Spark or police.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Blackman said the victims were almost always contacted on their landline by a caller claiming to be from Spark, who would say there was a security or tech issue.

The victims were then told they were the subject of identity theft or fraud. Their call would then be transferred to someone posing as a police officer, who would try to convince them police needed help to set up a trap to catch criminals.

They were told to withdraw large sums of money - often between $10,000 and $15,000 - and given an address to post the money to or bank account to transfer it to.

"The victims are often called repeatedly by the person claiming to be a police officer and talked into sending further large sums of money as part of the 'trap'," Mr Blackman said.

"We are aware of victims being asked to send money to different addresses in Auckland, as well as overseas locations including Spain, Japan and Australia.

"By the time some people realise they have been scammed, they have lost tens of thousands of dollars, which has likely made its way overseas making it very difficult to be recovered."

Last month police intercepted two packages containing a total $25,000, one of them sent by an 84-year-old woman. Mr Blackman said both had posted other packages of large sums of money which was yet to be recovered.

"Many of the victims are vulnerable, older members of our community who are less technologically minded and therefore more likely to believe claims they've fallen victim to computer hacking or identity fraud," Mr Blackman said.

"It's imperative that you warn your family and friends."

Reports from banks indicated there had potentially been hundreds of victims over the past few months across New Zealand, Mr Blackman said.

He advised people never to give their personal details over the phone to a stranger.

"A police officer will never ask for your bank details over the phone or ask you to transfer money. If you receive a call of this nature, hang up immediately."