Technology has produced some remarkable benefits along with some ‘bugbears’. Among these is the proliferation of phone scammers.
As the name implies these are callers claiming to be from a legitimate business, government department and even charity. They have a tried and true assortment of methods designed to convince their ‘prey’ to urgently give them money for what is seemingly a credible reason.
The CON in convincing
Even though telephones predate the development of the Internet, phone scams are now widely considered to be a component of cybercrime. This classification evolves, in part, from international scamming gangs employing modern technology to make their calls cost-effective and efficient.
The more sophisticated scammers use personal information gathered from social media to make their calls seem more plausible. The rise of the Internet has also made phone scamming an attractive way for fraudsters, often posing as IT support workers, to trick people into granting them remote access to their computers.
New Zealand is not immune
Along with the rest of the world phone scams have become disturbingly widespread in New Zealand. On-line safety organisation Netsafe reported that $33 Million dollars were lost to scams and fraud in New Zealand in 2018. In the first quarter of 2021 New Zealanders lost more than $5.3 million to scammers. Although there has been a decrease in overall scam reports, the amount of money lost has increased by 21.3 per cent.
The average loss in this period was more than $6400 – an increase of 50 per cent.
Not surprisingly, phone calls are more often than not a component of these crimes. It may be that the incidences are under-reported as victims feel embarrassed after they realise they have been scammed.
The consequences of falling victim to a phone scam can range from a minor annoyance to significant financial loss and even psychological harm. If a victim grants remote access to their computer to a phone scammer, malware (malicious software) can be installed. This allows the scammer to steal the victim’s banking credentials to withdraw money and other crimes.