The Southland Times reports:

A Southland woman has been swindled out of $32,000 after falling prey to an India-based scam.

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she had been left embarrassed, furious and felt betrayed after finally realising what she believed was a tax refund was nothing more than trickery.

It began early this month with a phone call telling her she had overpaid tax, but to get it she needed to transfer money to an account through the Western Credit Union.

The man who called sounded convincing and said he was from the Justice Department, she said. “I had no reason to be suspicious.”

One should be suspicious on four fronts –

  1. You would never to have to make a payment to get a tax refund
  2. IRD, not Justice do tax
  3. Any tax refund would be notified in writing
  4. Any involvement with Western Union means the funds are going offshore

The first payment was for $290, gradually increasing, with the pot at the end of the rainbow also increasing to a $71,000 refund.

Twenty payments were made to the scammers with all the money going overseas to India, the woman said.

I can sympathise with maybe a one off payment of $290 as being a normal level of gullibility. But for God’s sake what is wrong that you don’t twig on after 20 payments totalling $32,000.

Three different people had called her saying they were from the Reserve Bank and a “government department”.

That would get me more suspicious, not less.

It took the woman’s children to rouse suspicion which led to the end of the scam.

Her daughter overheard her on the phone to one of the scammers and asked what she was making the payments for.

They contacted the Reserve Bank which said it was a scam and to stop the payments.

It even got to the point that one of her daughters invoked power of attorney, cancelling her mother’s credit cards and withdrawing funds leaving just enough so she could buy groceries.

“Which was a horribly difficult thing to do. I’ve had sleepless nights over this whole thing,” the daughter said.

One can only feel sorry for the woman concerned, and thank goodness for her family who stopped it getting worse. But really, all one has to do is ask a family member of friend for advice in situations like these.

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