Scammers pretending to be from bank target grieving Auckland woman

Woman being scammed.
The daughter of the woman posted in a Facebook group to warn others. Photo credit: Getty Images

Scammers pretending to be bank employees have attempted to target a grieving woman, insisting her bank details be changed on the same day her late husband's death notice was published in a newspaper.

The daughter of the woman posted in a local Auckland Facebook group to warn others of the scammers, who she described as "low life scum".

"My lovely dad passed away, first thing in the morning of the notice in the paper mum had a call from her bank. They wanted mum to change her bank accounts from their joint names to her own accounts in her name only," the woman wrote.

Luckily, she and her sister were present at the time of the call. The woman said she knew something didn't seem right.

"Then she hung up pretty quickly when she heard my sister and I were onto her," she said of the alleged scammer.

"I have no doubt they would have been after details to transfer money into another account for mum and we would have found it would not have got there."

The woman told Newshub her mum is an ANZ customer. The bank has confirmed they don't contact customers about deceased family members.

Newshub asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's Consumer Protection service if it's aware of such a scam or similar scams circulating. National manager Mark Hollingsworth said scams like this are frequent and change all the time.

"Scammers often use publicly available information, events, and trusted brands to deceive people into dropping their guard on protecting their personal information, making immediate and unusual payment requests, or simply making a purchase of a product or service that seems to offer a 'good deal.'

"Most scams start with a contact that wasn’t expected, or an advertisement promising a good deal. If someone contacts you out of the blue or if you are targeted by an advertisement - whether over the phone, through the post, by email, on a website, in person, or on social media - you should always consider the possibility that it may be a scam."

Hollingsworth said people shouldn't provide personal information until they're sure an offer is genuine.

"Banks, businesses, or Government departments will never contact you directly by phone, text, email, social media, or other channels seeking your personal information.

"If you think you have provided your personal information or made a payment to a scammer, contact your bank and the police immediately." 

Meanwhile, police had some reminders for New Zealanders.

"If you are receiving a call from someone purporting to be from a business, ask them for credentials and never hand over personal details such as computer passwords or bank account details," a spokesperson said. "If the caller is legitimate they won't mind verifying their identity.

"Anyone who believes they are a victim of a scam is advised to contact police."