We were heartbroken and gutted to hear that our client Maria from La Bella Vita beauty therapy, got scammed 30k just before Christmas. Maria is the kindest, most thoughtful, and most caring person and did not deserve to have this happen to her.
Maria noticed suspicious activity on her account and when the scammers called claiming to be from the Westpac Fraud team, she did not think anything of it.
“She knew all the right things to say, ‘I’m really sorry this has happened to you, let’s get on top of it, let’s stop any more payments going out, here’s what you need to do,'” Maria said of the scammer. “And that’s what I did.”
After Maria gave up some crucial information, the next day she came to a grim realisation
“They pretty well cleared the accounts,” she said. “I went to the bank on Christmas Eve and there was one left with 3 cents in it. It was about $30,000 they took.”
“It was pretty devastating, I was beside myself, to be honest with you. It was such a violating feeling – I felt violated and I felt shame and felt heartbroken after working so hard all month and just being left with nothing.”
Maria immediately alerted her bank, Westpac, which initially said it could take a month to investigate.
“I cannot wait thirty days, I’ve got staff to pay, I’ve got bills to pay, I’ve got rent to pay. My staff relies on me.”
And, as a victim, Maria isn’t alone, with warnings New Zealand could be in for a summer of scams.
What to look out for
- Please be extremely vigilant for any unexpected or suspicious phone calls.
- Listen carefully to what is being asked for.
- If in doubt, end the call.
- If they claimed to be from your bank, call your bank back, using their official 0800 number from their official website.
- When phoning, don’t request a call back as scammers often call again.
- Never allow remote access to your devices or download software at the request of a caller.
- Never share your online banking passwords, phone banking or card PINs. Banks will never ask for them.
- Take care when providing verification codes, scammers are using these to authorise fraudulent payments.
- If you see suspicious transactions in your account, call your bank with their official 0800 number immediately.
- If you believe you’ve been targeted by a scam, contact your bank immediately.