Bay victim warns of phone scam

By Michele McPherson

A telephone scam which preys on the elderly - offering weeks of overseas holiday for a small fee - has left a Tauranga victim keen to warn others not be fooled.
John Green first received a phone call from Australian-based company Affordable Holidays about two months ago, offering him a four-week overseas holiday - anywhere in the world - with six of his friends. All this for just $290.
The caller, who Mr Green said sounded Asian, knew the 79-year-old's name, address and the first 12 digits of his credit card number, all he needed were the final four.
Mr Green said he told the man he didn't give his credit card details out to anyone. "He went on and on about how lucky I was and if I didn't take it up it would go to someone else. Like an old fool, I accepted the four weeks' holiday," he said.
Five days later the vouchers arrived but instead of weeks of travel, entitled Mr Green to just three days' holiday for two people at the "discounted" price of $300, in addition to the $290 he had already paid.
"I rang the manager (of Affordable Holidays) and demanded a refund because it was nothing but a scam," he said.
During June the company made three withdrawals from Mr Green's account, totalling more than $1200.
It took for Mr Green to threaten to call police before the company refunded the majority of the money back to his ANZ account.
Meanwhile, Mr Green was told by the bank that another 81-year-old female customer had fallen victim to the same scam.
The woman, who did not wish to be identified, said a total of $900 had been taken from her account, which had since been refunded to her by ANZ bank.
"I've had sleepless nights over this," she said.

"It's un-nerving, I even got to the stage when I thought people were tailing me in their car," she said.
Tauranga Police Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders said internet and telephone scams were happening all the time. He advised people to never, ever give bank account or credit card details over the phone to anyone. "If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is," he said.
Mr Saunders said because Affordable Holidays was an offshore company it fell outside the jurisdiction of New Zealand police.
Tauranga Police tactical analyst Rob Janes said these kind of telephone scams preyed on the vulnerable, some of whom might be lonely and looking for a chat and too polite to tell the caller to go away.
He said elderly people were also more likely to have land-line phone numbers and be home during the day.
 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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