"I feel like such a bloody idiot and I am so embarrassed to think the bastards have caught me."

That is how a Katikati man in his 80s describes being scammed out of $6700 he was saving for his funeral - by a person claiming to be calling on behalf of Chorus and Spark.

The retiree, who asked not to be named because he was humiliated, said the scammer gained his trust and had personal information including his phone numbers, name and address.

The caller told him he was responsible for a "contamination on the line" and could be charged.


However, the conversation quickly progressed to talk about his computer modem and a refund that needed to be deposited via internet banking.

"My modem had been playing up and I thought there is no bloody way they would know that. So he said 'we are going to conduct a test' and they pulled up all this data and said I was entitled to a refund."

His bank statements show that once he logged into internet banking the scammers transferred $8000 out of one account and then did a direct debit to N. Zalim for $6740.95.

"In hindsight I stuffed up and I should have hung up. I rang the bank straight away when my monitor screen went completely blank. I'm not computer literate but who is at my age?"

The ANZ bank said it could not comment on individual customers despite being provided with a waiver.

A spokesman said if customers thought they had been scammed, or their internet banking login details had been compromised, they should contact the bank as fast as possible and the bank would do what it could.

"There are no guarantees that we will be able to recover any funds.

In hindsight I stuffed up and I should have hung up.

"These scammers are incredibly slick and convincing, and play on the trust of customers. Even people who have some knowledge of how scams work occasionally fall victim."


Katikati police sergeant Steve Hindmarsh said it was not uncommon to see or hear from several people a week advising police of scams.

"I have known of a person to have been scammed of $100,000 by a person posing as a female from overseas who led the victim on with the promise of coming to New Zealand to be with them.

"They came up with excuse after excuse as to why they needed money sent to them before the victim decided that something was wrong.

"Scammers have no empathy for their victims or their circumstances and are the lowest of the low in that they feed on people's vulnerabilities."

Spark New Zealand communications adviser Lydia Tebbutt said there had been an increase in scammers pretending to be from well-known companies like Spark, other telcos or technology companies to trick or intimidate people into handing over personal information, or allowing access to their personal computers.

"These fraudsters often monitor corporate activity and mimic their methods of communication.

"They can be very convincing, and this can make it difficult for customers to tell the difference between what's genuine and fake."

Spark would never call customers out of the blue to ask for personal details like bank account, credit card or internet banking details or to request access to your personal computer or laptop, she said.

Consumer NZ head of research Jessica Wilson said in its latest survey, about one in 10 consumers said they had been the target of a scam in the past year.

"People who are less savvy about technology are more vulnerable to these types of scams. If you receive a call saying there's a problem with your computer or modem, hang up immediately."

In 2017, Kiwis reported losing $10.1 million dollars to online scams and fraud to Netsafe, which included $358,325 in the Bay of Plenty.