Police and Age Concern are warning locals not to be fooled by the latest Malaysian-based mail scam doing the rounds in Oamaru.
It is similar to another that left two Oamaru men close to $40,000 out of pocket last year, after they were convinced they had won a cash prize of $US200,000 and made payments and supplied their driver’s licences and passport details to claim it.
It is not known if anyone has succumbed to the scam, which claims to be from travel company Great Emporium Travel based in Kuala Lumpur, this time around.
Documents including a pamphlet and two scratchie cards are believed to have been personally addressed to several Oamaru residents, including Age Concern Otago’s Waitaki office.
Age Concern’s Waitaki co-ordinator Cherie Newlove brought the brochure into the Oamaru Mail office in an effort to warn others about it.
“I think quite a few [Oamaru] people have received the scam, I know at least five,” she said.
The pamphlet makes a vague claim the company has “invested $US5 million on the establishment of a new five-star hotel with a new adventure theme park in New Zealand”, with a “grand launch expected by the end of the year 2020”.
It insists the scratch cards are part of a competition to thank its valued clients and guests. Prizes include cash amounts that range from $US320,000 to $US130,000, Mediterranean cruises, mobile phones and gaming consoles.
A card scratched by an Oamaru Mail reporter revealed a so-called second prize-winning ticket of $US220,000.
If something sounded too good to be true, it probably was, Mrs Newlove said.
“They’re not actually scams, they’re now calling them fraud – because that’s what it is,” she said.
“No professional business will ask you for your bank account number or ID or anything like that over the phone can’t always trust who you are talking to.”
And if people believed they had been scammed, they should contact their bank and police, she said.
“Go to the police and talk about it – don’t be scared, don’t be afraid,” she said.
Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said despite the seemingly polished presentation of the documents, which were often “recycled with similar variations”, there was more than one way to identify them as a scam.
“From time to time these scams do arise and they are variations of what we have always seen. Generally, the overseas address are the giveaway that it’s not legitimate, but if people are getting something like that and think it’s not quite right if they Google it there will be people announcing it’s a scam. It’s especially the case when they are asking people to pay taxes to receive funds.”
In both cases last year, victims were told they had to pay thousands of dollars so their prize could be released.
Sgt Wilkinson advised residents to contact police or the Citizens Advice Bureau if they received the documents.
- Additional reporting Rebecca Ryan