Elderly victims in Eastern Waikato have lost tens of thousands of dollars after being targeted by scammers claiming to be bank employees.
Two elderly women, one in Thames and another in Waihi, both lost $46,000, while an elderly couple in Whitianga lost $25,000.
Police are concerned that there could be further victims amid the ongoing spate of scam phone calls, in which the perpetrators pretend to be members of a bank fraud team in need of assistance to catch a bank staff member accused of wrongdoing.
In each of the cases, the victims were convinced to transfer the money to Australian-based bank accounts.
“This week is Fraud Awareness Week and offending of this nature clearly highlights the lengths scammers will go to and the tactics they use,” says detective sergeant Mark Leathem.
One of the victims was asked to download a “remote access application” on to their computers, allowing the scammers complete and uninterrupted access to all of the victim’s banking and personal details.
“These scammers, who we believe are linked, appear to be targeting the elderly and more vulnerable members of our communities and are preying on their good morals, making them believe they are assisting trustworthy organisations with their investigations,” Leathem said.
“One victim told me she felt like she was under a spell and just doing what she thought was right.
“She was brought up trusting people and just wanted to help with their investigation.”
Police have urged people to have conversations with vulnerable or elderly family members to alert them to the tactics being used.
“The Police message about this type of offending is simple – do not engage with anyone on the phone.Police and banking organisations will never ask for this type of assistance over the phone,” says Leathem.
“If you think you are being scammed just hang up immediately – You’re not going to offend anyone – and report the matter to your bank and Police.
“If you are in doubt as to the legitimacy of a caller’s identity, ask if you can call them back, or just hang up and never open any links that are emailed to you by the scammer.”
Leathem warned that one click was all it takes for these offenders to get access to your information.
“If you have unfortunately opened a link that has installed remote access to your computer, make sure the device is shut down, or disconnected from the internet and seek assistance to ensure it is safely removed.”
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