Learn to recognise the signs that something is amiss.
Many scams involve a request to wire money electronically using a money transfer service, like MoneyGram, Western Union, or using cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin.
Remember that sending a transfer through these services is like sending cash - once the amount is picked up, it’s almost impossible to get your money back.
When you’re selling something - especially online - be wary of how you get paid.
A fraudster may send you a counterfeit cashier’s, personal or corporate cheque in an amount in excess of what they owe. You’ll be asked to deposit the cheque and wire the excess funds immediately back to them. Once your bank realises the cheque is a fake, you’ll be on the hook for the money withdrawn.
Be sceptical of emails, messages or websites that contain misspelled common words; grammar errors that make it difficult to read or expressions that are used incorrectly.
Email and web addresses should also be examined closely to see if there are subtle mistakes or differences.
PERSONAL INFORMATION REQUEST
Fraudsters may ask potential victims to provide more personal or financial information than is required for the transaction or discussion. Be suspicious if someone asks for copies of your passport, driver’s licence or birth date, especially if you don’t know the person.
You might get a call from someone claiming that you have a virus on your computer, you owe taxes or there has been fraudulent activity in your bank account. Hang up and call the organisation yourself using the number from a trustworthy source, such as the phone book, their website, or even invoices and account statements.
UNSOLICITED FRIEND REQUESTS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know until you review their profile or ask your real-life friends if they know them. Does their profile look fairly empty or have posts that are very generic? Do they seem to be promising more than friendship? These are some red flags that point to a scam. Delete that request and block future ones.
ASTOUNDING MAIL OFFERS
You received a scratchie card in the mail. It guarantees you will or have already won. Prizes might range from money to cars and trips. If you have not entered a contest, throw that card away. It’s probably a scam.
IT’S JUST TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
Everybody loves a great deal. But shocking offers, unbelievable discounts and unreal rates may signal that the offer isn’t quite what it seems. Cheap prices usually equal cheap products, or counterfeit goods. Free offers may require providing your credit card for shipping. Small tactics like these can lead to big profits for scammers.
Words of wisdom from NZ Police
Prevention is the only effective way to avoid losing money through scams. Do not send money to anyone you may have met on social media but not met in person, or to any person or organisation who emails you asking for money.
If you do send money and think you’ve been scammed, you must contact your bank immediately. Once this action has been taken, you can contact your local police, Netsafe or CERT to lodge your complaint.
The sooner your loss is reported to your bank, and then to law enforcement, the better.
All complaints to police are assessed in the same way and prioritised. But members of the public must be realistic - if you do not check things out carefully before sending money offshore, and then discover you’ve been a victim of fraud, there is little chance you will recover your money, and little chance that the offenders will be apprehended or that anyone will be held accountable. Often, all police can do is share intelligence with our partner agencies offshore.
Acceptance of this loss is key in moving on with your life, rather than trying to make someone accountable.
Remember, the best way to avoid being scammed is to stop before you start:
DO NOT send money to anyone you have not met in person, and trust.