Police warn Kiwis have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in a recent phone scam.
Hundreds of New Zealanders have potentially fallen victim to the criminals' plot, which targets the elderly and vulnerable.
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The scammers claim to be from Spark and tell their targets they are the subject of fraud or identity theft. They then transfer the call to a person claiming to be a police officer, who tells them to send them large amounts of money as a "trap" to catch the criminals.
"By the time some people realise they have been scammed, they have lost tens of thousands of dollars, which has likely made its way overseas making it very difficult to be recovered," says Det Sgt Kevin Blackman.
He says many of the victims of the scammers are the elderly or vulnerable, who are less technologically-minded and more likely to believe they've fallen victim to computer hacking or identity fraud.
One of the victims was an 84-year-old woman who had sent "substantial amounts" of money. This is yet to be recovered.
Banking records show there could potentially be hundreds of victims over the past few months across New Zealand.
"Not every case has been reported to Police so we are unable to confirm how much money has been sent to the scammers, but it is easily in the hundreds of thousands of dollars," Det Sgt Blackman says.
Anyone who believes they are a victim of a scam is advised to contact Police immediately.
How to protect yourself from a phone scam
The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) warns people to be suspicious of any unsolicited calls from telecommunications companies.
"Telecommunications providers will never ring you and ask for personal details like your credit card details, bank account number or request access to your computer or laptop without you knowing why," says CEO Geoff Thorn.
"They will also never ring unexpectedly and tell you that there is a virus or security issue with your computer.
"If you do have some concerns about a call, ring the company back on their publicly listed number, not the number they called you from, and alert them to the call you have just received."
Det Sgt Blackman urges Kiwis to warn their friends and families to be aware of the scam.
"Never give your personal details over the phone to a stranger. If you think a call may be suspicious, hang up immediately and do not engage with the caller," he says.
"A Police officer will never ask for your bank details over the phone or ask you to transfer money. If you receive a call of this nature, hang up immediately."