Scammers target Bay

By Vicki Waterhouse

Bay residents are at risk of a new computer scam which has caused increasing concern this week.
The scam works to gain access to individuals' computers so the scammers can extract information on bank account logins and details, passwords and private information.
It comes only weeks after the Ministry of Justice issued a warning over a scam where people posing as its employees urged people to disclose personal and financial information.
Lisa Adams, 42, of Brookfield, said she had been called by scammers more than six times in the past few months, and has been presented with three different scams.
The most concerning scam involved six phone calls from the same woman, claiming she was from "Operating Systems Windows".
She told Mrs Adams that in order to fix a problem with her computer, she had to go to a certain website.
She said the woman, who spoke with an Asian accent, tried to convince her that her laptop wasn't working properly and created a fictional problem.
Mrs Adams repeatedly told the woman she knew it was a scam and had involved the police and her phone company, but the woman persisted.
"[The woman] still didn't back off," Mrs Adams said. "She wouldn't budge, she kept on pushing."
Going to the website would eventually allow the scammers to access the computer and retrieve all kinds of information from it.
"It's dangerous, very, very dangerous, especially for an older person or someone that's not on their toes with it," Mrs Adams said.
"Although I was savvy enough to say 'go away, leave me alone' ... someone's got to say something, because if they don't these people get away with it."
She said it was clear the phone calls were not from a standard landline.


"It's really broken up, a really bad signal," she said.
She believed the phone calls were being made from Skype or a similar internet-based programme.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs website's Scamwatch section mentions the scam and said it started in Britain but had since spread to New Zealand. The advice it gave was to hang up the phone straight away.
Mrs Adams feared for older people as she felt they were more vulnerable and made up a sizeable chunk of the Bay's population. A lot of older people were familiar with computers, she said, but some would not know enough to protect themselves.
The computer ploy was not the only scam Mrs Adams had to deal with - the most recent phone call she had received had a recorded message which told her she had won a cruise. The message said she needed to dial nine to collect her prize.
After ignoring the phone message twice, Mrs Adams was sick of it and decided to act.
"I was absolutely furious," she said. "I pressed nine just to give them a rark up."
The phone line went dead and she believes she incurred a charge for her troubles, but is yet to get the phone bill.
The Scamwatch site has detailed information on this scam, which started happening in New Zealand last month.
Internal Affairs has also recently commented on a scam involving callers claiming to be from that department or Inland Revenue in order to extract money from victims. People have been convinced to send a "fee" to the scammers in order to enable money they are owed to be released to them. The money, of course, did not exist, and the fee was effectively stolen money.
Internal Affairs deputy secretary, Craig Armitage, said the callers targeted vulnerable people and the department was aware that people had become victims.
Police were unable to give a figure for the number of scams operating in the Western Bay, but Tauranga Police Intelligence Senior Sergeant Carolyn Crawford-Smith said scams were always going on.
"Just use common sense; if it sounds too good to be true, it is."
Have you dealt with scam callers? Tell us about it: bnews@bayofplentytimes.co.nz
WARNING SIGNS
* It sounds too good to be true
* You receive a telemarketing call with a pre-recorded/automated message
* You need to provide personal details or pay money to claim your "free" prize
* You have to dial 9 to redeem your prize
* You have to call a premium rate number, these premium rate calls can be very expensive.
PROTECT YOURSELF
* Use your common sense
* Do not send any money or pay any fees to claim a prize
* Be careful of phone numbers beginning with 0900. These are charged at a premium rate and can be very expensive
* Read all the terms and conditions of any offer very carefully: claims of free or very cheap offers often have hidden costs
* If a telemarketer claims to be calling on behalf of a business you have an account with, call the business yourself to confirm this is true before giving out any personal details to them.
- From Consumer Affairs/Scamwatch website

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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