Last week, I became aware that some our older community members have again been targeted by online scams. Fortunately one of our retailers picked up the purchasing pattern, intervened directly with their customers when possible and in one case highlighted an ongoing fraud to me.
The individuals involved were approached via the messaging application, WhatsApp or email. They were initially befriended and then conned with a tale of hardship into providing cash to payments via iTunes gift cards.
In two cases I know of, the scammer pretended to have reached the New Zealand border but had been denied entry or lost all their funds at that point. They then requested money to assist with getting into New Zealand or back home. They also told the victims they intended to come and visit them just as soon as they could get things organised. Needless to say, this was all a lie. In one case, the money conned from the victim totalled a few thousand dollars within just one month.
While not everyone is aware of the possibility of scams, these perpetrators are extremely convincing. They ruthlessly take advantage of vulnerable people and their good nature. Unfortunately, scammers are frequently based overseas and the likelihood of being able to trace the contact or recover any money taken is remote. As always, the best way to avoid them however is to be aware of the potential and not respond to any initial spam or scam approaches. I ask that as a community we take the opportunity to discuss this issue with our elderly friends and family, especially those who may be less Internet savvy.
On a different note, last weekend, a large group of boy racers were reported to be congregating and doing burnouts in the Whitehall area. We were subsequently able to identify and impound one of the vehicles involved. Please keep information coming into Police when this occurs. Where it is safe to do so, obtain the registrations of vehicles actively involved, vehicle descriptions and what they were doing (for example, doing a burnout out, tyres spinning and smoke being produced for ‘x’ amount of time or tyres popped).
With vehicle registration and supporting incident information, we can make follow-up enquiries, even if we don’t catch up with the cars on the night. Under section 118 of the Land Transport Act 1998, the registered owner of a vehicle is required to provide to Police when requested and within 14 days, details of the driver of their vehicle on a specific date and time. If they do so, we can follow-up with the driver themselves. If the owner fails to satisfy their obligation or provides false information however, they will then themselves face a charge. That offence carries a penalty of up to a $20,000 fine and a potential disqualification from driving. As a witness, please note you would almost certainly be required to provide a statement to police outlining what you observed to prove any driving behaviour not directly witnessed by police. Together we can keep our community safe.