Scammed out of $15,000

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1993
WARNING: Be careful of callers from phone numbers you do not know.
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An Ashburton woman in her 60s is warning others after she was scammed out of $15,000.

Three months on, the woman has managed to get $6000 back, but remains $9000 out of pocket.

The woman, who wants to remain anonymous, said she fell victim to a fast talking and slick scammer, who phoned one evening in February as she was preparing dinner at home.

‘‘I picked it up and a woman with a New Zealand-sounding accent, who spoke in a very business-like way and very fast, told me she was phoning from Kiwibank.

‘‘They had noted unusual activity in my account, including a $500 amount to an online gambling company.

‘‘She asked if I would have been doing that, I assured them I certainly wouldn’t,’’ she said.

‘‘The caller talked and talked and talked.’’

There were occasional pauses as the so-called Kiwibank representative said she was checking things, and wanted to make sure everything was secure.

‘‘To reassure me, she said she would text me a code. Once I received it I was to read it out to the scammer. As I read the last digit back to her, the hairs on the back of my neck went up and I thought ‘Oh my god, what have I just done? It’s too late, I’ve just read out a new password to her’. I knew in that moment I had been scammed.’’

She phoned Kiwibank after finding she could not log into her account. Kiwibank confirmed she had been scammed.

The $15,000 had gone out in six lots to two different bank accounts, which were held by genuine Kiwibank customers.

‘‘The account holders had most likely agreed to their accounts being used for laundering, and in return they would receive a percentage of the amount scammed,’’ the woman said.

‘‘Kiwibank were great, especially those in the local branch. Within three weeks I had received $6000 back. I ring Kiwibank monthly to see what progress has been made on recovering the rest of the amount. They are trying, but have so many clients who have been scammed.

‘‘I am so wary now of everything, and the scammer destroyed my ability to trust so easily,’’ she said.

She said Kiwibank had told her the scammer may not have known she was a Kiwibank customer, but when scammers phoned potential victims they would often take a punt and use a bank’s name, hoping to get lucky.

She had reported the crime to the police. She advises others if they ever feel unsure it was their bank or other company calling, hang up and ring the company back.