Police warn New Zealanders over WhatsApp impersonation scam

  • 24/03/2022
An illustration of WhatsApp
If you suspect someone might be impersonating a loved one, ask if you can call them back. Photo credit: Getty Images

Police are warning New Zealanders to be wary of a scam circulating in the community via  WhatsApp.

The scammers are impersonating family members or friends, saying they are in difficulty and are in need of money.

"Victims of this scam have received a message from an unknown number, claiming to be a loved one who has just lost their phone and got a replacement," police said in a statement.

"The scammer then attempts to obtain the victim's credit card information."

Police said while these types of scams are virtually ever-present, some people are more vulnerable than others.

"We urge people to have conversations with vulnerable or elderly family members, to help ensure they are aware of the tactics often used by scammers and don't become victims," police said.

"Police's message on scams like this is simple - do not engage with anyone on the phone and if you think you are being scammed, report the incident immediately."

If you suspect someone might be impersonating a loved one, ask if you can call them back, police said. If possible, ask them a personal question too, like their date of birth, name of a sibling, pet name or maiden name. 

Anyone who believes they are a victim of a scam should immediately report it to their bank and then to their local police. Online scams should be reported to the Government online security agency, CERT NZ.

Here’s what to do if you’ve been targeted by a scam or fraud online, according to CERT NZ.

If you gave out some personal or financial details:

  • contact the service provider for your online accounts - like your bank or your email provider. Let them know what’s happened and ask what they can do to help.
  • change the passwords for any online accounts you think might be at risk
  • get a free credit check done. This will let you see if any accounts have been opened in your name. There are three main credit check companies in NZ, and you’ll have to contact all of them. You can ask to have your credit record corrected if there’s any suspicious activity on it.