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Police warn of phishing

Wairarapa police response manager Jennifer Hansen is reminding people to be aware of online scams. PHOTO/JOHN LAZO-RON

Police are reminding people to be aware of who they’re dealing with on social media when it comes to money after an elderly Masterton man became the victim of an online phishing scam.

Last Wednesday, the man received a message on Facebook from someone he thought to be an overseas friend. His supposed friend sent him a link in the message and told him to send money to that account and that he would receive a significant amount in return.

As it turned out, his friend’s Facebook account had been hacked.

He initially paid a small amount to the account before receiving another message asking him to pay a larger sum. Thinking the message was legitimate, the man then went to his bank to make the deposit.

Luckily for him, his bank intervened after being alerted to the scam and saw the account was an overseas one and advised him to go to the police.

The case was now under investigation.

Wairarapa police response manager Jennifer Hansen said the incident was a reminder to watch for online scams.

“Online scams are common, and scammers are sophisticated and often target elderly people,” the senior sergeant said.

“Scammers prey on people’s insecurities and vulnerabilities and work by appealing to the desire for ‘easy’ financial gain.

“In this instance, it looked legitimate as it was his friend, but his friend got hacked too.

“If it sounds to be good to be true, it probably is.”

Hansen said online phishing wasn’t a common occurrence in Wairarapa compared with the rest of the country but still happened from time to time.

“It certainly has happened before, and it’s a pretty hard thing for some people to get their head around,” Hansen said.

“The fact that people can be dishonest or that they’ve been duped causes a huge amount of stress because some people have a lot of hope on receiving something that’s never going to come.”

Hansen reiterated her reminder for anyone who received any kind of message linked to money that they checked it out thoroughly first.

“If someone is offering a significant amount of money in exchange for you paying a small amount, I’d imagine they’re going to pick up the phone and explain why and not through a social media message.

“What you need to ask yourself is: ‘Is this for real? Why would you want to give me money?

“If it sounds dodgy, it will be.”

Hansen praised the bank for stepping in for the man as their actions stopped him from losing more money.

“Credit to the bank for their vigilance.

“I imagine it’s something they have become increasingly aware of and are looking out for their customers, probably more so for some of our elderly members of the community that seem to be a little bit more susceptible to these sorts of scams.”

  • Anyone concerned about scams should talk to police, friends, or family members, and report anything suspicious to 105, or make a report to Netsafe at netsafe.org.nz.

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