El­derly wo­man fleeced of $28k

Piako Post - - FRONT PAGE - KATRINA TANIRAU

An el­derly wo­man has been left $28,000 dol­lars out of pocket af­ter be­ing the vic­tim of a phish­ing scam.

Mor­rinsville res­i­dent Janice Blaikie was in the throws of buy­ing a prop­erty and was sent the bank ac­count de­tails by what she thought was the real es­tate agent who was man­ag­ing the list­ing.

In the email she was in­structed to make a de­posit of $28,500 into the ac­count num­ber listed.

Prior to the sale she’d been deal­ing with a land agent from Prop­erty Bro­kers, but be­cause the prop­erty was listed with an­other real es­tate com­pany - the same men­tioned in the email - she thought it was al­right and made the de­posit via on­line bank­ing.

It wasn’t un­til she re­ceived a phone from her land agent at Prop­erty Bro­kers that she re­alised some­thing sin­is­ter was at work - the ac­count num­ber her land agent sent through was com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the one she had de­posited the funds into.

‘‘My agent rang and asked when I would be de­posit­ing the money and I told her I had al­ready done it,’’ Blaikie said.

‘‘She said it was not where it was sup­posed to be and that’s when I knew.’’

Janice im­me­di­ately called her bank, she then went to Mor­rinsville Po­lice and made a for­mal com­plaint.

Sergeant Paul Snape con­firmed they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case.

He said the were a num­ber of scams on­go­ing at any one time and scam­mers vary in their tech­niques.

‘‘The scam can be (but is not lim­ited to) phone calls or via email. The ul­ti­mate goal for the scam­mer is to gain ac­cess to your bank ac­count or credit card by ask­ing peo­ple for their per­sonal and bank de­tails. This is when the scam­mer will with­draw money from the vic­tim’s ac­count and in most cases send it over­seas,’’ he said. ‘‘Banks, fi­nance com­pa­nies and gov­ern­ment de­part­ments will never call you to ask you for your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, bank de­tails or pass­words/pin num­bers over the phone. They will never ask for you to pay money into an ac­count so that you can re­ceive a re­fund. Scam­mers will sound and look le­git­i­mate.’’

Blaikie said she felt so vi­o­lated that she wouldn’t be ven­tur­ing any­where near her com­puter.

‘‘I feel like I’ve been bur­gled, but I have no smashed locks or bro­ken win­dows,’’ she said.

‘‘My hus­band cov­ered all the cam­eras, it’s scary to think there are peo­ple who could be watch­ing us.’’

Blaikie is un­der no il­lu­sions about the fact that we live in a dig­i­tal world, but she wished that peo­ple up­held the fun­da­men­tal val­ues that have guided her through life, like be­ing a good and hon­est per­son.

‘‘If it saves one el­derly per­son from go­ing through what we’ve had to en­dure, I don’t care,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m not an overly re­li­gious per­son, but can re­mem­ber read­ing in a pas­sage in the Bi­ble about how even­tu­ally man will out­smart them­selves. I think this it is.’’

If you think that you have been scammed, change your pass­words and con­tact your bank be­fore re­port­ing to po­lice, Snape said.

Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion also of­fers ad­vice on how to avoid scams.

123RF

Mor­rinsville’s Janice Blaikie can’t face her com­puter af­ter she was scammed of $28,500 (FILE).

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