80yo phone scamming victim shares story as police issue warning

An 80-year-old Auckland victim has shared her story of being phone scammed in a bid to save others from a similar situation.

Marion had $10,000 taken from her account by the convincing con artist, and police are warning others to be on the alert.

Marion was at home one evening when she received a call from a person claiming to be from Spark.

"I was on my computer and the phone rang," she says in a video shared by Auckland City Police.

"The person who spoke to me advised me that he had been advised by Spark that I had an email account with them and something was wrong with my computer and if I didn't check it I would lose my email account, which panicked me.

"They asked me, would I go onto the computer and they would show me where the problem was, which was not good but convincing, which I did."

The scammer asked Marion to download the Teamviewer application which allowed them to access her computer. Then they asked for her banking details.

"They asked me questions about my bank accounts, did I have bank accounts, who they were with, and I told them," she says in the video.

The scammer then took $10,000 from her account. Fortunately, Marion's bank got in touch after noticing suspicious banking activity and the money was able to be recovered.

But police say other victims are not as lucky as Marion, with several million dollars lost by Kiwis to these offshore scammers in the past few months alone.

Detective Sergeant Kelly Corby from the Auckland City Financial Crime Unit says an investigation is looking into more than 20 complaints from victims.

"We are not talking about small amounts of money," Corby says.

"On average, each victim has lost around $30,000 and these losses are absolutely devastating for our victims."

Police are reminding the public that you should never give your banking details over the phone to a stranger, no matter which company they claim to be calling from - even if they say they're from your bank or phone provider.

"If you receive a suspicious call from your bank or phone provider, hang up and ring the company back on their publicly listed number - not the number they have called you on - and alert them to the call you have just received," Det Sgt Corby says.

"Check your bank accounts/credit cards for any suspicious transactions and notify your bank immediately if so.

"Please speak to your parents/grandparents, neighbours and other elderly people you know to warn them of this scam."

Police believe there are people in New Zealand who are acting as money mules for the offshore scammers - and warn they could face prosecution for this.

"If someone asks you to use your account to deposit money, then asks to withdraw it, there is a strong likelihood that the money is from a scam and you risk being charged with money laundering," says Det Sgt Corby.

A similar investigation by the Auckland Financial Crime Unit last year resulted in 18 people charged for money laundering offences after hundreds of phone scam victims lost more than $2.5 million.