Scammers pretending to be a bank

You answer a call. Its your bank asking you to action something urgently. Or is it?

When your bank isn’t your bank.

Scammers love impersonating companies like banks, they even mimic phone numbers. If a call doesn’t feel right – it probably isn’t. Bank staff would never ask you to reset your internet banking passwords and confirm what the new password is, download software to gain access to your device, or transfer money to a ‘safe’ account, purchase gift cards or set up crypto currency accounts, or ask for your two-factor authentication code or your phone banking PIN.  If they do - hang up. If you want to check the legitimacy of the contact, call your bank on the number listed on their website.

Stay safe – personal passwords and PINs and authentication codes are important layers of protection. Banks hold a significant amount to information to assist in servicing your needs, so they don’t need to know these to enable a transaction to be completed.

If you receive an unexpected or suspicious text message or email, never click on any links, or download any attachments in it.

Remember – scammers don’t sleep - if you receive an email or text message containing a link, or perhaps a phone call, out of the blue, never confirm or provide your:

  • credit card details.
  • internet login details.
  • your two-factor authentication codes.

A recent item from our regulator – the Financial Markets Authority (FMA)

The reality of it… No rest for the scammed: Recovery room fraudsters prey on past victims. How falling victim to one scam spawned a cycle of ‘recovery room’ crime attempts

Graeme was the unfortunate victim of an international share investment scam, losing more than $20,000. You’d think that would be as bad as it would get.  

But it turns out there’s a particularly cruel kind of scam operating where victims are targeted again – this time with the false hope of assistance in getting some of their lost money back.  

Graeme, who has prior investment experience and owns shares directly in several companies, lost his money in a sophisticated share scam, which began with a $5000 investment in shares in a Scandinavian company.  

He’d been emailed with the share investment offer and was eventually convinced by the professionalism of its corporate website, the authentic looking documentation, procedures, and people he spoke to. 

“It was very well set up – I found out later everything online was fake - the directors’ faces, the offices, everything,” he says. “We had some spare cash – and I’d filled out a questionnaire, about how much I had to invest and that I was looking at shares.”  

Later, after a series of supposed corporate events, Graeme’s shares were transferred to a new Chinese firm. Pressure then came from the fake brokers to invest more money, leading him to purchase another $20,000 of shares.

It was when the pressure kept building to buy even more shares that Graeme’s suspicions were confirmed. He realised he’d been scammed and cut off contact with the phony brokers.  

“I had to suck it up and move on,” he said. 

But Graeme’s plan to learn his lesson, and to now stick only to locally based share brokers hasn’t put an end to the scam attempts. As his details were passed on to a new group of crooks – this time trying to steal his money in what’s known as ‘recovery scams.’

He is now being regularly contacted by phone and email with a variety of different offers to help him recover his lost money. He has little doubt that it’s linked to the original scammers – these recovery offers contain accurate details of how many shares he originally bought, and how much money he’s already lost.  

Recovery scams can take different forms – Graeme has since been asked to take part in a class action legal claim against the company he had originally bought shares in. The scammers say that if he pays a fee to help fund the class action, then he’ll be able to receive a share in any potential payout.

Other approaches come from a so-called US government agency, supposedly working alongside a law firm to help retrieve money lost to scammers. “If you’re approached by anyone from offshore, don’t proceed, work though a local – if you are investing in shares, go through a local [licensed] provider,” says Graeme. “No one from overseas will try to get your money back - it’s bad money after bad money, don’t enter into any negotiations to pay anyone to retrieve money.” 

Keep asking great questions...

Brent Meffan - Operations Manager