AM newsreader Bernadine Oliver-Kerby feels 'ill' after finding out followers were scammed by cryptocurrency hacker

AM newsreader Bernadine Oliver-Kerby says she feels "ill" after finding out unsuspecting Kiwis fell prey to a cryptocurrency scammer who hacked her Instagram. 

Oliver-Kerby revealed during the show on Wednesday her account had been hacked, saying it felt like a "massive invasion" of her privacy. 

The broadcaster also revealed she was struggling to regain access to her account despite hundreds of emails to the social media platform. 

But during AM on Thursday Oliver-Kerby had some good news - she has regained access to her account. 

"It's been emotional, I am not going to lie and a huge thanks to the social media team here at Three - it's been incredible the guidance they've given me because it has been horrendous,' she said. 

She said she's currently wading through the messages the scammer sent but was distraught to see at least 75 people were caught out by the scam. 

"I've got back into my account and seen the messages sent by this person to other people purporting to be me. It's like I've been sending people messages saying, 'This is a great deal'. And I've seen people saying, 'Did my credit card details go through', so this has actually been horrendous to be involved with.

"People I didn't know, people who have followed me [were] thinking I have been endorsing this Bitcoin scam and have been sucked in by it - that's what made me feel completely ill.

"I am wading through the messages to say, "It's me, I am back, I hope you haven't sent money'. It's been horrendous actually. I don't know how they got into my accounts, it's just scary."

During yesterday's show Oliver-Kerby said she had completely lost control of her account and someone was using it to try and scam money from her followers. 

"My account has been hacked, taken over. I can't access it, I can't get into it. I've sent 8000 emails to Instagram security saying someone has taken over my account," Oliver-Kerby said.  

"It's actually a massive invasion of your privacy but someone is trading, purporting to be me saying, 'Here's the bank account you can get $50,000 in two hours, look I've done it'. So impersonating me, trying to solicit money from people.

"What happened was I got a message saying my account had changed email. This person had taken all my details and made them theirs. So my account is now linked with their telephone number and their email. So I am completely in the dark." 

She said when she managed to contact the hacker they told her to film a scam video or she wouldn't get her account back. 

"He said, 'Sure [you can have access again] if you make a video for me saying I made $50,000 in two hours' and I said, 'You must be an idiot because I read the news and no one is going to believe that you clown'.

At the time Oliver-Kerby said her biggest concern was someone losing money to the hacker. 

"I feel like I've been burgled. It's awful but the other thing is I have contacted Instagram so many times because there is no safe place to go and say, 'Someone has stolen my identity and they are trying to solicit money from people using my image'. That's my biggest concern. There is no panic button saying 'freeze this account' so no one loses money."

Oliver-Kerby isn't alone with experts warning Kiwis last year to be vigilant as scammers tried to take advantage of increased uncertainty and stress levels during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Netsafe says some of the most common online scams include cold calling scams, tech support scams, email phishing scams, fake invoice scams, romance scams, receiving unsolicited goods, unwanted subscriptions and trials, investment scams, webcam blackmail and sextortion, government grant scams and event ticket scams. 

Netsafe's guide to scam spotting 

  • Contact that is out of the blue - even if the person says they're from a legitimate organisation like the bank, an embassy or your internet provider

  • Getting told there's a problem with your phone, laptop or internet connections  - often they will offer to fix your device or say they are from your phone or internet company

  • Being asked for passwords - legitimate organisations will never ask for the passwords to your online accounts

  • Needing to verify your account or details - don't respond or click on any links in the communication even if it looks like it's from a real organisation

  • Trying to get you to move outside of an online trading or booking website or app (like Air BnB) - don't pay outside of the normal website or app processes

  • Offering money or a prize in exchange for something up front - they might say that it's a "processing" fee or something similar

  • Being asked for money by friends/partners you've met online - this is a very common tactic, do not pay the money

  • Unusual ways to pay for something - scammers try to use payments that can't be traced such as pre-loaded debit cards, gift cards, bitcoins, iTunes cards or money transfer systems

  • Asking for remote access to your device - never do this unless you have actively sought out the service they are providing

  • Pressuring you to make a decision quickly - this could be to avoid something bad (e.g. account being closed, trouble with the IRD) or to take advantage of something good (a deal or investment)