Learn to outsmart the scams

By Sebastian Mackay

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A number of Northlanders have been scammed in the past two months, costing them friends, relationships and sleepless nights.

Details of the individuals scammed, and the scams, are not being revealed at this stage, but they have prompted one Northland community to take action with a Scam Savvy seminar next month to help people protect themselves from scammers.

The elderly and the lonely are most susceptible, with both men and women being victimised by malicious online dating schemes. The cons involve frequent calls during the night, which leave them vulnerable to demands, manipulation and isolation, said Julie Moebus of Kaitaia Age Concern, who is organising the seminar.

In some scams, victims are told that friends are interfering in the relationship and are encouraged to transfer money into offshore accounts under the guise of financial assistance.

Scam Savvy will cover all types of fraud, including credit card, telephone, internet, email and postal.

"They are very official looking, but if you've never paid for a [lottery] ticket or heard of them [the company] or they ask for money to get money, then it's a scam," Ms Moebus said.

Some people receive between 80 and 100 pieces of scam mail a day, she said. "They spend their lives opening and responding to them because they don't want to miss out."

One elderly scam victim in another part of the country was duped of $20,000 in two months.

Ms Moebus said many postal scams come in the form of lottery tickets claiming the recipient is a winner. They ask for between $20 and $25 and once the first payment has been made, the victim is added to a mailing list.

Email scams are similar to postal scams and often involve requests for bank account details or passwords, said Ms Moebus.

Bronwyn Groot, BNZ's national security and fraud co-ordinator, said there are estimates that up to $20 million is lost annually to scams in New Zealand.

The Scam Savvy seminar is on at Kaitaia's Te Ahu Centre from 10am on September 6 and people can book a place via ageconcernkta@xtra.co.nz.

To report scams or for details of the latest scams check out www.scambusters.co.nz.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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