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Police issue social media scam warning

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Police are warning people to be alert to a scam circulating on Facebook after a number of recent reports.

Victims of the scam have reported being misled by fake Facebook accounts which appear to belong to their friends or family members.

These accounts are 'clones' created by scammers using pictures and personal information from public Facebook profiles.

Scammers hiding behind the fake accounts get in contact with victims advising them they have won prize money from a ‘promotion’, but that they need to pay money into an account before they can receive their reward.

The scammer puts the victim in touch with a third party who requests personal information, bank and credit card details from the victim.

The third party also requests the victim pay a fee, usually around $2000, with the promise of receiving the ‘prize money’.

The sums requested then increase, with victims being deceived into paying many thousands of dollars.

Police are aware of one person who has reported losing over $55,000.

The scammers use many tactics to mislead their victims, from pretending to be a trusted contact, to putting deposits of money into the victim’s bank account to ‘help them out’ as the scam progresses.

The scammer tells the victim not to tell anyone about the ‘promotion,’ and that if their bank asks any questions to say that it is money being used to assist a family member.

Police are investigating a number of reports of the scam in the Southern, Central and Wellington Districts, and suspect there may be more people affected who have not reported it to Police.

Officers want to prevent any more people being targetted and defrauded by ruthless scammers.

Police want people to remember some fundamental tips to help prevent being scammed:

Look after your personal details in the same way you would your wallet and other possessions.

Check the profile of someone who is contacting you unexpectedly, as it may be a fake.

If something looks or sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

If you think you may have been a victim of a scam, notify your bank immediately, and call Police on 105 to report it.

We are also aware that scammers may target elderly or vulnerable people, so we urge people to have conversations with older or vulnerable family members about keeping safe online, and being aware of suspicious activity and tactics used by scammers.

If you are the victim of a scam, do not hesitate to report it to Police.

Many people choose not to out of embarrassment at being deceived, however they should be assured that Police will take any report seriously.

More information on online scams is available here: www.police.govt.nz/advice/email-and-internet-safety/internet-scams-spam-and-fraud

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