Thousands of dollars lost in New Plymouth gift card scam

New Plymouth police have warned of a scam where people have been duped for tens of thousands of dollars. 

The scam involves Prezzy and iTunes gift cards, in which a woman with an American accent claiming to be from a government agency speaks to people on the phone and tries to convince them to buy a card and hand over their bank details. 

People that have been scammed have lost up to $30,000, New Plymouth Sergeant Terry Johnson told Stuff. He says members of the elderly community have been targeted by the scammers, and has urged people to look out for their elderly parents. 

If the scammers are based offshore, it could be difficult to track them down, Sgt Johnson tells Stuff. But if police can track them down, they will be referred to the International Criminal Police Organisation, commonly known as Interpol, he says. 

It comes after a number of recent scams targeting New Zealand. The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) warned people this week of a sophisticated email scam that is currently doing the rounds. 

The email claims the recipient is due a large tax refund and asks them to click on a link that takes them to another website where it can supposedly be claimed. IRD says it has received about 700 notifications of the scam. 

Another strange scam this week claims New Zealand is introducing a universal basic income funded through casinos. The story uses an image of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, featuring an unusual editorial choice - a sickly-looking hand Photoshopped in.

A spokesperson says they became aware of the "story" on July 13 "and immediately asked Facebook to remove it on the grounds that it was fake news".