Scammers pretending to be from the Inland Revenue Fraud department threatened to arrest Annie Horvath-Cunningham if she didn't call them back.

The Dargaville resident now wants to warn others.

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) says it became aware of the scam just 10 days ago and is so concerned about it they are urging people to report this type of phone call to the police.

"People should call the police if or when they get such a call," said an IRD spokesman who also urged people to contact them via their phishing report email address.


Dargaville resident Horvath-Cunningham said she has never had any problems with IRD so when they rang her on Monday to say there would be a warrant out for her arrest, "I thought oh my gosh, what the hell have I done".

"Then I thought, someone is having me on, it's a friend and they are doing a prank call.

"But then I thought gosh, I better call back just in case and the number said it came from Wellington, where the head office is.

"I called it back and an Indian guy answered. He said it was the IRD fraud unit and that if I gave him my details, he could find out exactly who called me."

Horvath-Cunningham was about to hand out her details, however something struck her as strange.

"There was a lot of noise in the background – like some sort of gathering, like at a cafe. I said no I can't give you any information. You don't normally hear that background noise when speaking to someone at IRD, is what I thought to myself. He said, 'without the information I can't help you'.

"I said oh my goodness what's all that noise and then I said, I don't believe you are legitimate, this is false.

"He said no madam, this is the Inland Revenue and you can call us at any time. Then I said, 'No man – I think this is a scam' and then he hung up."

Horvath-Cunningham then contacted IRD via their 0800 number.

"I was told that this is a new scam and they are trying to get as much information from people as possible in order to investigate it.

"So I said to him – I'm going to put a post on my local community page – and he said yes, that's what we've been telling people to do."

After Horvath-Cunningham posted to the Dargaville Grapevine page she was surprised several others in the community had been called with similar threats.

"I have since heard of a lady who did a call back like that and was charged $100 to call the number back.

"So, I've sent Vodafone an email about it, so if I have been charged or something's happened, hopefully they will come to the party."

A spokesperson from Vodafone said the scam was definitely a new one.

"As of yesterday we were made aware of a phone number reported to be the IRD scam number and after some investigation we have taken the necessary precautions and blocked the number from making any calls to our customers.

"Refunds for customers who have experienced a scam are done on a case by case basis depending on the circumstances surrounding the scam.

"As always, Vodafone urges its customers to always be vigilant about communications of this nature."

Police advice for anyone who receives a suspicious sounding call is as follows:

• Never provide any personal information over the phone mail under any circumstances.

• Seek validation of who the caller actually is. Always ask for a full name and the company or agency details.

• Validate the phone number of the caller and ask that they call you from a landline if they are using a mobile phone.

• Ignore calls from unknown mobile numbers.

• Don't share your personal details until you are convinced the caller is legitimate.

• If you are threatened, simply hang up – the IRD or any other government agency, police or a crown entity will not threaten someone.

• Don't trust anyone who calls you and asks for financial information such as your account details and password – again simply hang up, call them on their published contact 0800 number or arrange a meeting at the relevant agency branch.

Raising awareness

Pouto resident Joesephine Nathan has successfully cycled her way from Rotorua to Wellington to raise awareness for the Smear Your Mea campaign.

Joesephine Nathan with her bicycle raising awareness for the Smear Your Mea campaign that aims to get women to participate in getting cervical smears done. Photo/Rose Stirling
Joesephine Nathan with her bicycle raising awareness for the Smear Your Mea campaign that aims to get women to participate in getting cervical smears done. Photo/Rose Stirling

The original campaign was founded by Talei Morrison, a prominent and outspoken kapa haka performer who lost her very public battle with cervical cancer last year.

Joesephine who attended the same school as Talei, Queen Victoria Māori girls boarding school, said she felt compelled to take part in the ride and raise awareness along the way, because it was such an important issue.

"Too many are not getting their checks. It's all about encouraging them to get checked and that's what the kaupapa is all about. It's about awareness and talking about it."

Describing the 566km long cycle ride, Joesephine said, "It's been an absolute success and not just because all of us key riders made it through to the end. It's also gone viral in terms of social media, so more and more of our whanau are talking about it, so the cycle has been an absolute success in terms of getting the message out there."

Nathan said several stops had been planned along the way, and at those stops the local health providers would share the message with various promotions and some of the riders would share their stories.

Local iwi based health service provider Te Ha Oranga supported the event and two of their staff also participated in the ride.

"Te Hā Oranga participated in this week long promotion to raise national awareness and combat the high rates of cancer and low rates of survival from preventable cancers for Māori women.

Māori adults aged 25 and over have significantly higher cancer registration rates than non-Māori adults for total cancers in 2010–12. The total-cancer mortality rate among Māori adults was more than 1.5 times as high as that among non-Māori adults," saidinterim general manager Boyd Broughton.

A purr-fect photo

A purrfectly lovely photograph of a much loved moggy has won over the hearts of Dargaville Vet's staff.

Jennifer Randall's photograph of her pet cat Buffy has won the Dargaville Veterinary Centres competition and will soon appear emblazoned across the stores large front window. Photo/Supplied
Jennifer Randall's photograph of her pet cat Buffy has won the Dargaville Veterinary Centres competition and will soon appear emblazoned across the stores large front window. Photo/Supplied

Jennifer Randall's photograph of her pet cat Buffy has beat out all other entries, in a competition for best pet photograph and will soon grace the front window.

"We were absolutely blown away by the amount of entries for the competition. There certainly are some very talented photographers out there, and some very photogenic animals," said Nicki Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Dargaville Vet Centre.

Randall said she entered the competition because she is passionate about photography and belongs to the local camera club and she hoped she might win so she could support her daughters' dance crew.

"That photo was taken at the beginning of 2016. She (Buffy the cat) was lovely and had such a gentle nature and she was just so nice and I had her for about 15 years."

As winner of the competition she was allowed to choose to donate a prize of $250 to a local school or club of her choosing.

Randall chose Dargaville Intermediate School's dance crew, with the money going towards costumes for the Northland Regional Competition.

"I know that they don't have a big budget, the dance teacher puts in a lot of funds herself and my daughters are in the dance group and I know they need costumes, so I knew it would be put to very good use."

King tides throughout the Kaipara today

King tides are expected throughout the Kaipara District in the next few days.

A king tide of 3.8 metres is expected in Dargaville at around 3.15pm today.

The Kaipara District Council has been checking floodgates and drainage around the district in preparation.

"We had our land drainage and water team looking at things all along the river yesterday and this will continue for the rest of the week," said a council spokesman.

"In terms of the stopbanks, this is managed by a few members of the waters team, our land drainage co-ordinator, and our engineers. They along with contractors will be out checking, clearing flood gates for most of the day."

The NZ MetService has put out a weather watch for severe weather for Northland.
To keep up to date with warnings the council recommends locals follow the Northland Regional Council's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/civildefencenorthland/

■ Email Rose — if you have news that you would like to share with Northern Advocate readers. Rose.stirling@gmail.com.