January 9, 2019

ANZ reports 206 percent rise in scams this year

International scammers running large, slick operations to raid bank accounts.

The country's largest bank, ANZ, says the number of attempted scams it has dealt with this year has more than tripled, compared with last year.

It says it's never known so many before.

The biggest increase is in the number of scammers calling people to tell them their computer is faulty and they need to make a money transfer.

ANZ chief operations officer Mike Bullock said the people involved are big international businesses that hire experts to impersonate representatives of trusted companies.

Bullock said while they try to recover any money stolen, often they cannot - and that can be heart-breaking, especially at this time of year, for those defrauded.

He said the bank's fraud teams are continuing to investigate claims right up to Christmas

In November last year, new data revealed by the bank said that New Zealanders will lose about $70 million to scammers.

Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden said that's a 15 percent increase from last year.

Sladden said scammers have become more sophisticated as banking technology has changed.

"I think as technology changes, we continue the way in which we do business, the way in which we communicate with each other, and with that new technology it creates new risks and loopholes, and the scammers are very good at exploiting those," she said.

Sladden said the $70m figure is just the tip of the iceberg and the true scale of the losses could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

Data from Netsafe shows almost 8000 New Zealanders reported a scam between January and September this year, with almost $25m lost.

National manager of the Police Financial Crime group, Detective Superintendent Iain Chapman, said it can be difficult catching scammers who are overseas.

"The reality is that despite the combined efforts of all agencies involved in financial crime in New Zealand, there are significant challenges in identifying and prosecuting overseas offenders involved in online scams. This is further made worse by the fact that international fund transfers can take a matter of minutes," he said.

The Banking Ombudsman, Netsafe, and police have warned that the best way to avoid being scammed is to never click on a link in an unexpected email or text, and to never give out your PIN number or password, adding that a genuine bank or organisation would never contact you for that information.

SOURCE: RNZ/PACNEWS

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