Hapless foreign phone scammers have been unsuccessful in their efforts to rip off people in Kaitaia, with one leaving a would-be victim $1000 better off and another trying it on with Kaitaia police.
David Ratapu, a former senior police constable but now manning the phones, front desk and admin area at Kaitaia police station, said a woman went into the police station yesterday to report a scam.
Mr Ratapu took the details of the scam - which actually ended with the woman having $1000 more in her bank account than when the scammers got in - and 10 minutes later the same scam was tried on Kaitaia police.
He said the woman was rung around 10pm on Monday by a man who sounded Indian, saying he was from Microsoft and that there were viruses on her computer that needed to be cleaned off as they would allow hackers in if not.
After convincing the woman that there were dozens of viruses in her DOS system and even more hackers waiting to get into her computer, she agreed to pay the man $5 to clean it up, Mr Ratapu said.
But the woman was concerned about it being a potential scam and the man told her the company would put $2000 into her account to show he was not being dishonest.
The man said he'd ring the woman back the next day and get her to take the $2000 out of her account and she could then transfer it via Credit Union to an account in Poland.
However, the woman became concerned and contacted her bank.
Sure enough there was an extra $2000 that had been put into her account, but - luckily for her - she had a limit on how much could be taken from the account and $1000 had also been removed, Mr Ratapu said.
He said the woman immediately put a stop on the account so no more money could be taken out, but she was left with $1000 of the money the scammer put in.
"So she actually came out $1000 better off. But she was very lucky to have been so on to it or she could have had her entire account cleaned out," Mr Ratapu said.
"And it does serve as warning to others that these scammers are out there and that they need to take care. Microsoft or any other computer company will not ring you up and ask for access to your computer. And anybody who asks for your bank account details or to make a transfer via Credit Union on a call like that is clearly only after one thing - to scam you."
He was not sure what would happen to the extra $1000 the woman has in her account, but thought it would be a matter for her and her bank to sort out.
"It was weird. Within about 10 minutes of this lady leaving after I took her details the phone rings and I could see (on the phone screen) that it was clearly a foreign number. So I answered and there's this man with an Indian accent saying he's from Microsoft and there are viruses on our computer that he needs to clean off.
"So I thought 'here we go' and told him ' I don't think so because our computer system is based in Porirua and the level of security is extremely high. But he then started his spiel - similar to the one the lady got - so I asked him if he knew who he was calling.
"I told him it was the Kaitaia Police Station in New Zealand, that I had his number and then he hung up rather quickly."
Mr Ratapu said it was a shame scammers tried to prey on people, but people needed to be aware that there was another scam doing the rounds.