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Telephone share scams given new twist to con Kiwis

Securities Commission

Monday 31st October 2005

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An innovative new twist is being used by overseas people who telephone New Zealanders with offers of share deals.

The new approach has several features.

  • The callers use the real (or very similar) names and addresses of genuine registered securities firms in jurisdictions such as the USA, UK, Canada, Hong Kong or Germany. The fraudsters appear to have telephone numbers originating from leading financial centres but calls to the number are redirected to other countries.
  • The unsolicited calls to New Zealanders are followed by faxes using letterhead that is the same as that of the genuine firm except for the phone and fax numbers. Websites that imitate those of the genuine firm are also used but the links go to the fraudsters.
  • The caller or the follow up letter refers to a registration number that is the genuine number of a registered securities firm.
  • The caller refers the Kiwi victim to an official-sounding phoney securities regulator to confirm the credentials of the share offer.

"Telephone share scams have plagued New Zealanders, particularly those with small businesses, for several years," Director of Enforcement Norman Miller says. "Many millions of dollars have been lost to them. The scam has evolved to highly sophisticated levels."

The end result is always the same; the victim is convinced that the deal is real, and conned into sending more money out of the country. This money is always lost.

The Commission has launched a second publicity campaign to alert people to this scam. It encourages people to "Slam the phone" on callers offering share deals and not be "sucked in" by these callers.

The campaign follows similar publicity in June and July this year which brought a flood of inquiries to the Commission.

Avoid being defrauded:

  • Hang up on callers offering share deals - there is no way to confirm the location of a person from a telephone number.
  • Visit www.sharescams.org.nz to learn more about this scam.
  • Avoid calling agencies recommended by the cold callers. These agencies, which may have names that indicate 'investor protection', 'securities protection', 'securities legislation', are not legitimate.
  • Visit sites of regulators listed on www.iosco.org, which has links to the only legitimate securities regulators around the world.
  • And most importantly - If it sounds too good to be true, then it most likely is.


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