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Fraud victims must react

Richard Jackson of Digital Seniors was targeted by online fraudsters. PHOTO/MARCUS ANSELM

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Richard Jackson knows what it’s like to be on the sharp end of an online scam.

The Wairarapa retiree was just one of 13,000 New Zealanders who reported an online scam in 2018.

Newly separated, Jackson was eyeing bargains when he received an email claiming to be from a supermarket.

A competition to win a widescreen television. With Christmas approaching, the offer of a new TV was too good to be true. And it was.

Jackson handed over his credit card details. But sensing something wasn’t quite right, he checked again. And some money had been taken from his account. At $77, this was much more than first agreed.

The email looked convincing on first look, but failed scrutiny when checking out the finer details.

Jackson called his bank as soon as he recognised some of the tell-tale signs, such as incorrect telephone numbers, and UK addresses.

He lost $77, but it could have been a lot more.

A block was placed on the card. Further checks found out a company based in Cyprus had sent the email.

After three months of communication, the company paid out.

“You have to adjust everything that revolves around your banking,” Jackson said.

“The scammers start softly, find out how alert you are, and if you’re not, they will dive in.

“So that was a salutary lesson that ended happily, but the whole thing took about three months to get resolved.”

But Jackson’s case is a rare success.

Jackson now works with the Digital Seniors group helping Wairarapa’s over-65s with technology.

The group meet weekly at Masterton Library and will help solve any problems.

The sessions are free of charge. They are focused on people over 65 but won’t turn away anyone younger who needs help.

Online scams are an increasing problem for individuals, community groups, banks and police.

Research by BNZ and Camorra Research said that 81 per cent of people asked had been targeted by a scam. Over half of those don’t report it.

Wairarapa police are working closely with Age Concern to help vulnerable seniors manage if they are targeted.

BNZ’s new campaign urges Kiwis of all ages to stay safe online. The bank’s Scam Savvy campaign guides people through the types of scams that typically target New Zealanders.

From April to June 2019, 924 reports featuring around $6.14 million in losses were reported to online safety organisation Netsafe. The average reported loss was $6648.

Masterton Police Sergeant Ian Osland said online scamming was international, and can be difficult to solve.

He recommended reaching out to organisations like Netsafe for their help.

“As long as people are educated and familiar with the approaches that can be made, aware of the resources out there like Netsafe or Scamwatch, then they will be in a better position to make informed decisions before disclosing personal information or enabling access to their bank account.”

Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker said that, as in Jackson’s case, “speed was of the essence” if you thought you had been a victim of online fraud.

“The faster you act, the more likely you may have some positive outcome.”

  • BNZ Masterton is holding Scam Savvy sessions at 10.30am today and Friday at the Partner Centre at 193 Queen St.
  • Call into the branch or email [email protected] for more information.
  • Contact Digital Seniors at 0800 737 646 or through their website, digitalseniors.co.nz/contact.
  • Netsafe will help anyone seeking advice on all online safety matters. Call toll-free on 0508 NETSAFE [0508 638 723], email [email protected] or text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282.
  • Find out more about the BNZ campaign at getscamsavvy.co.nz

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