Kiwi woman duped into becoming money mule for scammers

Police have confirmed they are aware of a phone scam using Prime Minister Bill English's name as bait that appears to be targeting beneficiaries.

Otorohanga woman Anna Din is one who's been duped, and she's urging other beneficiaries the scammers have a surprising amount of personal details about each victim. 

"They called on my landline and asked for me by name. They said you are one of the 200 people Bill English has chosen to give $6300 to as you are low income and on the benefit. They even know I have two children - but what got me is they say the offer is coming from Bill English," Ms Din says . 

She says she was asked for her account number, and was promised the money if she sent $595, that they would give her, to a Western Union account in China.

The caller said it was a donation for impoverished children that would make her $6300 tax free. 

"At first I said It looked dodgy and it sounds dodgy but it could be real because they are putting money in my account."

The scammers put $595 into Ms Din's account, she took the cash out and as instructed sent it via Western Union to China. The second time they wanted to do it she said no and went straight to the Police and Kiwibank who froze her account while they investigated.

Kiwibank spokesperson Bruce Thompson says it's been established that Ms Din was used as a "mule" by the scammers to funnel stolen funds hacked from other vulnerable Kiwis.

"All money has been traced and returned to a total of three people it has been stolen from, including Anna," Mr Thompson said.

Police say from time to time there are scams where the caller advises they are from the Government working out of the Unclaimed New Zealand Grants Department. 

Often, the caller will mention the name of a well-known politician, and will tell the person who answers they know their personal details, and also asks for information like bank account numbers and driver's licence numbers.

The advice from MBIE's Consumer Protection Manager Mark Hollingsworth is "if you are called out of the blue, hang up immediately and if it seems to good to be true it probably is."


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