A Wellington woman has spoken out about an online scam where her mum nearly lost $1000.
An Auckland mum, who wished to remain anonymous, added a man on Facebook by the name of Robert C Crutchfield who lives in Newark, New Jersey, and instructed her on ways to send him money to get $10,000 in return.
The man also worked for Free Lotteries aka International Free Lottery Agency which is a website that claims it finds people randomly on Facebook and other websites and choose them as "winners."
In order to claim the prize, the "winner" pays an admin fee ranging from $5000 to 300,000 with the winner allegedly receiving thousands more in return.
A concerned daughter, who at first did not know about the scam, told the Herald how her mother was conned out of money.
"He's finding people on Facebook and pinpointing those that are a little bit hard on cash, disabled and he's messaging them through messenger about some sort of programme where if they deposit money for a package they will give money back," she explained.
"She has already sent at least $500 and deposited it in an account he had."
However, after the mother went to buy iTunes vouchers she discovered it was a scam from friendly The Warehouse staff in Sylvia Park.
"After that, the next step was for her to go out and buy $500 worth of iTunes cards from whatever store and send all those serial numbers to him," the daughter said.
"She was so close to doing it, but The Warehouse [staff] had stopped her."
They pulled her aside and asked her if they were Christmas gifts, but her mother told them it was for a man named Robert C Crutchfield.
"They knew straight away [it was a scam] after she told them his name so they must had heard his name before or that company before," the daughter said.
"So The Warehouse [staff] were like 'no sorry this is a scam and you need to stop what you're doing right now'."
The Warehouse staff also explained to her mother how a previous victim had already spent $1000 on a scam, half of that in iTunes vouchers.
"She bought them from the Warehouse Stationary and bought out their whole stock, so she ended up going to The Warehouse to buy more and that's how they realised that there was something going on," the daughter said.
Once her mother was told, she was embarrassed and upset, said her daughter.
"It's really sad that he's singling out people that are less fortunate," she said.
Afterwards, the mother called the International Free Lottery Agency where she spoke to people who claimed they received her money.
Still not convinced, the daughter decided to confront the man on messenger and on the phone where he repeatedly claimed he wasn't a scammer. Crutchfield's phone number was from California in the United States.
"I messaged him on Facebook and said he was a really negative person and he rang me to try and convince me that he wasn't a scammer," she said.
"He said 'First of all, I'm not a scammer, I'm trying to help out your mum. I've been honest with your mum and she's been helping me, I'm not a scammer."
The daughter also explained that though the scammer's profile photo looked like a "middle-aged Caucasian man" that his accent was sounded more African, so the man claimed that he was German.
When the Herald tried calling the number, we were left with an answering machine that said, "The Google subscriber you have called is not available. Leave a message after the tone."
International Free Lottery Agency claims their information centre is based in Hamilton, however the Herald understands the address doesn't exist.
The website also shows the winner's delivery status, saying it failed due to the admin fee not being paid and it being held at an address, which appears to be the premise of The Warehouse in Clendon.
In the International Free Lottery Agency testimonial section, the company has used a Kiwi man's identity, claiming he had won $200,000 in cash. The Herald has attempted to seek comment from him.
"God will continue blessing International free Lottery to help and bless my whanau," the testimony says.
The International Free Lottery Agency website does not appear on Google, instead, victims are sent a hyperlink to the scammer's website.
On the website's homepage it claims the company is:
"An independent 501(c)3 fund established to help a community involving the elderly, retired, employed and unemployed people for the 2018 Private Grant Foundations (P.G.F) in collaboration with Facebook Award Promotion Agency Company (FAPAC)."
When searching "Facebook Award Promotion Agency Company" the searches only come up with the "Freedom Award Lottery Promotion Agency Company" and websites explaining how it's a Facebook scam.