The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has issued a warning regarding scammers attempting to impersonate the regulator as part of a money transfer scam.
In a statement, the FMA said that on August 05, it was contacted by a woman who had tried to transfer a significant amount of money from China to New Zealand, saying she and her family had been “stranded in New Zealand” due to COVID-19 and needed the money for living expenses.
The woman said that she saw an advertisement on a community news outlet offering money transfer services, and arranged the transfer via WeChat. The money was sent to a bank in Inner Mongolia. However, the money didn’t arrive and she was told the transfer was “frozen” by the FMA due to suspicions of money laundering. Later, a man posing as an FMA official contacted her, saying that she needed to pay money for the original sum to be released.
Unfortunately, the woman fell victim to the scam and paid the amount.
FMA director of regulation Liam Mason expressed concern over the case, since it targeted those affected by the pandemic, as well as impersonating a government agency in order to steal more.
“We are trying to ascertain if the scammer is in New Zealand, as they appear to have had some local knowledge, and also if anyone else has been defrauded by them,” he said.
Mason added that people can protect themselves from such scams through due diligence.
“Be sure to only transfer money through businesses on New Zealand’s Financial Service Providers Register,” he said. “Don’t fall for the scammers’ line that you must pay more money to release your original funds. And know that the FMA would never freeze money remittance or ask you to pay any money.”
Mason encouraged anyone with information about the case or with knowledge of any suspicious money transfer providers to contact the FMA and report the illegal activities.