Residents urged to avoid scam

By John Maslin, John Maslin john.maslin@wanganuichronicle.co.nz

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Wanganui resident Hiroshi Kato wants others to be on guard after he got caught out in a phone scam promising him plenty if he gave a little.

Mr Kato said that on Tuesday last week he was contacted by a person calling himself John Morrison who claimed to be representing the Inland Revenue Department and telling Mr Kato he was entitled to a rebate of $3600.

To get the rebate he was asked to send $199 to a "needy cause" in India and once that was done the $3600 would be transferred to his bank account.

Mr Kato kept his end of the bargain but, not surprisingly, his "rebate" never came through.

"They told me I was one of 1500 New Zealanders chosen for this special treatment because I didn't have a criminal record or had never filed for bankruptcy," he said.

"This guy said his name was John Morrison and he told me I would need to speak to the Reserve Bank to confirm some details. He then transferred me to the Reserve Bank.

"This man [Morrison] gave me a file number and then when I spoke to this other person in the Reserve Bank [he called himself Steve Edwards] he confirmed that file number.

"Both of these men had strong Indians accents," he said.

Mr Kato was told the money would be wired through to his bank account overnight.

"I offered to give him my bank account details but he said I didn't need to bother with that because the Reserve Bank had access to that information anyway," he said.

Mr Kato withdrew a total of $214 - $199 for the worthy cause and the rest to cover the cost of wiring the money via Western Union. He was given a phone number to contact them which he did last Friday when he still had not received his "rebate".

"I was getting angry by this stage because I told them I wanted my money back. And when I said I would be going to the police they hung up on me," he said.

That same day Mr Kato called the real Reserve Bank and they told him there was no one on their staff called John Morrison or Steve Edwards.

He said he knows he has been duped but said the callers "sounded so plausible".

"But when I called them on Friday they had the cheek to ask for another $400 in back taxes they said I owed."

Mr Kato said he knows he will never get his $214 back but said he wanted to warn others about this bogus calling scheme.

"This isn't about the money but it's about the principle".

The Chronicle tried calling the phone number Mr Kato was given but it only activated an answering service.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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