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Scammers target elderly victims in Eastern Waikato

file photo/SunLive.

Police are concerned about a recent spate of telephone scams targeting the elderly in Eastern Waikato.

“This week is Fraud Awareness Week and offending of this nature clearly highlights the lengths scammers will go to and the tactics they use,” says Detective Sergeant Mark Leathem.

In each of these current cases, offenders have initially telephoned the victims and convinced them they were a member of a bank fraud team needing assistance to catch a bank staff member suspected of wrongdoing.

The offenders convinced the victims to transfer money into Australian-based bank accounts.

Two elderly women, one in Thames and another in Waihi, both lost $46,000, while an elderly couple in Whitianga lost $25,000.   

One of the victims was asked to download a ‘remote access application’ onto their computers, allowing the scammers complete and uninterrupted access to all of the victim’s banking and personal details.

“These scammers, who we believe are linked, appear to be targeting the elderly and more vulnerable members of our communities and are preying on their good morals, making them believe they are assisting trustworthy organisations with their investigations,” says Leathem.

“One victim told me she felt like she was under a spell and just doing what she thought was right.

"She was brought up trusting people and just wanted to help with their investigation.”

Police 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 of this offending.

“The Police message about this type of offending is simple – do not engage with anyone on the phone.  Police and banking organisations will never ask for this type of assistance over the phone,” says Leathem.

“If you think you are being scammed just hang up immediately – You’re not going to offend anyone – and report the matter to your bank and Police.

“If you are in doubt as to the legitimacy of a callers identity, ask if you can call them back, or just hang up and never open any links that are emailed to you by the scammer.

"One click is all it takes for these offenders to have access to your information.

"If you have unfortunately opened a link that has installed remote access to your computer, make sure the device is shut down, or disconnected from the internet and seek assistance to ensure it is safely removed.”

In the case of these recent incidents, enquiries are ongoing.

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