Moments away from sending cash
A 91-year-old Hawke’s Bay woman was moments away from sending thousands of dollars to phone scammers when she was stopped by her son.
Robbie McKee said his mother, who lives in Napier, received a call on Thursday from someone purporting to be from telecommunications firm Spark. She was convinced by the phone scammer to get onto her computer.
His mother thought the scammer was ‘‘being very helpful’’.
‘‘One thing led to another and he raised the issue of scams and convinced my mother that she would be doing everybody a great help if she would take money out of her bank account – cash – and take it to a Western Union agency and send it somewhere in India.
‘‘My mum did take the money out of the bank but started to think maybe this isn’t what it should be and rang me. I immediately told her to put the money back in the bank and contact police.’’
She’d withdrawn ‘‘thousands’’, McKee said.
The Central Hawke’s Bay man has since emailed government ministers, saying his biggest concern was that agencies which offered Western Union services – mostly dairies – didn’t have policies to prevent fraudulent transactions.
McKee had rung the dairy his mother was asked to take the cash to, and a staffer said any transfers were between ‘‘them and the client’’. He didn’t feel the business was involved in the scam but said the elderly need to be ‘‘cautioned’’.
‘‘It scares the daylights out of me. These types of scams only work on vulnerable people.
‘‘Most elderly people I know are very proud and their self-esteem is important. I’d guarantee it there are a number of them out there who wouldn’t even tell their friends, neighbour, family, police that they’ve been duped.’’
Police said the scam had been ongoing for months, with ‘‘many victims across the country’’.