Editorial: Scam exploits Rena agony

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If there is some kind of disaster that has caused people grief in New Zealand, you can guarantee there are a few unsavoury characters just waiting to take advantage of the situation.

The disaster that is the stricken ship Rena is no different.

It was well off course in October when it struck the Astrolabe Reef, six nautical miles north off Motiti Island, near high tide while en route from Napier to Tauranga.

Since then beaches have been closed, people have lost a lifetime of belongings, oil and debris have spilled into waterways and on to shores and wildlife has been killed.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

But one of the latest problems to have stemmed from the disaster is scammers trying to con people out of money.

Police have been notified of scammers using what has happened with the Rena in the Western Bay of Plenty to lure people into making donations to a fake wildlife fund. The fund doesn't exist. There are no official fundraising activities for the National Oiled Wildlife Response Team.

Maritime New Zealand has apparently received several reports from people who have been asked to make donations over the phone or were directed to a website for a nonexistent Rena response fund. These people were asked for credit card details too.

How greedy can people get?

The Rena has had an impact on many - especially the locals and the wildlife - and there are people who don't have an issue taking advantage of this.

What kind of person tries to scam money out of caring people by tugging at heartstrings?

It's a timely reminder for us to remember that there are undesirables out there who shouldn't be trusted.

Maritime New Zealand is reminding the public to be cautious and to never provide personal facts, bank details or credit card information over the phone, online or in an email.

The only official fund in operation is the Bay of Plenty Care for our Coast Fund and anyone wanting to make a donation can go to the website, www.boprc.govt.nz.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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