Elderly woman fleeced of $28k

An elderly woman has been left $28,000 dollars out of pocket after being the victim of a phishing​ scam.

Morrinsville resident Janice Blaikie was in the midst of buying a property and was sent the bank account details by what she thought was the real estate agent who was managing the listing.

In the email she was instructed to make a deposit of $28,500 into the account number listed.

Prior to the sale she'd been dealing with a land agent from Property Brokers, but because the property was listed with another real estate company - the same mentioned in the email - she thought it was alright and made the deposit via online banking.

It wasn't until she received a phone from her land agent at Property Brokers that she realised something sinister was at work - the account number her land agent sent through was completely different to the one she had deposited the funds into.

"My agent rang and asked when I would be depositing the money and I told her I had already done it," says Janice.

"She said it was not where it was supposed to be and that's when I knew."

Janice immediately called her bank, she then went to Morrinsville Police and made a formal complaint.

Sergeant Paul Snape confirmed they were investigating the case.

He said the were a number of scams ongoing at any one time and scammers vary in their techniques.

"The scam can be (but is not limited to) phone calls or via email.The ultimate goal for the scammer is to gain access to your bank account or credit card by asking people for their personal and bank details. This is when the scammer will withdraw money from the victim's account and in most cases send it overseas," he says.

"Banks, finance companies and government departments will never call you to ask you for your personal information, bank details or passwords/pin numbers over the phone. They will never ask for you to pay money into an account so that you can receive a refund. Scammers will sound and look legitimate."

Janice says she felt so violated that she wouldn't be venturing anywhere near her computer.

"I feel like I've been burgled, but I have no smashed locks or broken windows."

"My husband covered all the cameras, it's scary to think there are people who could be watching us."

Janice is under no illusions about the fact that we live in a digital world, but she wished that people upheld the fundamental values that have guided her through life, like being a good and honest person. 

"If it saves one elderly person from going through what we've had to endure, I don't care.

"I'm not an overly religious person, but can remember reading in a passage in the Bible about how eventually man will outsmart themselves. I think this it is."

Snape reiterated that if it seemed too good to be true then it probably is, and you're probably being scammed, Snape said. 

Contact the company the scammer is meant to be representing from the official website or yellow pages to check if it is them. 

If you think that you have been scammed, change your passwords and contact your bank before reporting to police, he said.

Consumer Protection also offers advice on how to avoid scams.

 - Stuff/ KATRINA TANIRAU


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