Police warn of of growing financial scams

File photo.

If it seems too good to be true then it probably is, Tauranga Police Inspector Zane Smith says.

Working with Western Bay of Plenty Neighbourhood Support, he says financial scams are on the rise, and people need to be wary, especially when an offer comes out of the blue, or from someone you don’t know.

“People wanting to illegitimately take your hard-earned money are often skilled at finding what motivates people," says Zane.

"This can include asking you to make Investments, provide them financial data they use to access your accounts, or provide them with material they can then use to extort money from you.

“To prevent yourself from falling victim to a scam here’s some advice I have learnt from my time working in Police.

"Unsolicited offers for cheap goods and services or fantastic investment opportunities - sadly there are few people out there that want to give you something for nothing.”

He says to watch for returns that are far beyond what reputable well known and respected companies currently offer, and being pressured to act now.

“If they are not giving you the option to take your time and consider what’s being asked of you in investing, then there is a good chance if you stopped and thought about it, you wouldn’t get involved.”

Zane says people should avoid clicking on a link, and instead Google their name, as fake websites can appear genuine.

“Never transfer money to an individual or organisation that you can't verify as legitimate. Trust your instincts, if it sounds like a scam, it probably is," says Zane.

Common scams include phishing, an email scam where the sender pretends to be a trustworthy organisation to get personal information, like internet banking login details.

In social media scams someone tries to get money from you pretending to be someone you know.

“They’ll say they need money to help them get home, or pay for unexpected medical costs. Or they attempt to illegitimately buy or sell something on a social media marketplace.

“Scammers send fake invoices requesting payment for goods or services that you didn't ask for. Scam phone calls pretend to be from a well-known company, requesting remote access to your PC or device, to gain access to your financial information.

"Scammers also try to take advantage of someone looking for a relationship online using dating sites and apps or social media to build a relationship.

"Once they’ve gained your trust, the scammer will ask you for money, gifts or personal details that can be used to commit fraud.

"They often use fake profiles to make it harder to track them down."

Text message scams, or 'smishing scams', are messages sent by scammers looking to access personal information, financial details, your phone or money.

“If you think you are getting scammed or laundering money, stop all contact with the scammer, do not make any more payments, contact your bank and report it to Police on www.police.govt.nz/use-105," says Zane.

He urges anyone who sees something they think might be attractive or a great deal to research the ‘deal’, speak to friends and family, check with the Financial Markets Authority, and be vigilant about anything out of the ordinary.

Neighbourhood Support Chair Kathy Webb says resources are available to those who believe they may have been scammed.

“A good place to start is Scamwatch at www.consumerprotection.govt.nz which shows how to recognise, avoid and act against scams," says Kathy.

"The Financial Markets Authority provides helpful advice on how to avoid falling victim to online investments scams at www.fma.govt.nz. CERT NZ at www.cert.govt.nz helps you with reporting a cyber security incident and provides support to individuals and businesses.

“Join your street group for free at www.wbopns.org.nz/joinus to connect with your neighbours so we can all be wiser about scammers.”

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