Kiwis conned by romance, cash scams

Kiwis conned by romance, cash scams

Love and money are the focus of "sophisticated" overseas scams Wellington police are warning the public to be wary of, following a number of Kiwis who have fallen victim to them.

Police are investigating a number of serious fraud complaints where New Zealand residents have transferred large sums of money into offshore accounts in sophisticated scams.

The first involves the person being called from Hong Kong or China by an unknown person and are offered to buy shares.

They're often pitched as short-term investments in well-known companies which offer large returns.

Another is to do with romance, where the victim meets a person through an online dating site and has unknowingly transferred money into an offshore bank account.

Wellington CIB Constable Ross Barnett says in each instance, the offenders are from overseas and once they receive the first payment, they'll put pressure on the victims to transfer large sums of money at once on short notice.

He says the scams can continue over many months.

"I would like to remind the public to exercise extreme caution when buying shares overseas, transferring money on other people’s behalf and giving money to anyone they have not met in person," Const Barnett says.  

Other scams circulating involve people being told they've won an overseas lottery and need money to receive their prize – some claim to be from a legitimate business but siphon the money into another bank account.

They could also be pretending to be from a law enforcement agency and demand money for illegal material downloaded onto the victim's computer.

Police say if people receive offers or threats such as these, they should hang up or seek expert advice before any money changes hands.

If the offer "appears too good to be true, it often is", Const Barnett says.

Anyone who wants advice or to report cybercrime should call their local police station, visit the netsafe website or information can be provided anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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