Children’s author almost fell victim to Kiwibank phone spoofing scam

An elaborate Kiwibank scam nearly duped a children's book author out of all his money.

An elaborate Kiwibank scam nearly duped a children’s book author out of all his money.

A children’s book author nearly fell victim to an elaborate Kiwibank scam, which uses a phone number hacking trick to call from a seemingly legitimate 0800 number.

Malcolm Clarke, author of Tu meke Tūī!, took to Tiktok to warn others about the scam, which began when he saw unusual activity in his bank account over the weekend.

“I noticed two strange transactions on my Wise Auckland account,” he said.

The first successful fraudulent transaction took place on June 8 for $30.58.

* Massive phishing expedition targets 10,000 New Zealand phones in 24 hours
* A close call with a savvy phone scammer worries residents
* 81-year-old man spends thousands on iTunes gift cards for scammers

The second was the same day for $214. This also succeeded but was still pending on his account.

He sometimes used international money transfer site Wise, but said they were definitely not the same transactions.

To be on the safe side, Clarke canceled the card and reported it to Kiwibank, who said someone from their fraud department would get in touch.

He then received a call right away from a number with no caller ID. The caller said he was from Kiwibank’s fraud department and was going to issue a refund.

But first they needed his passcode to be typed into the keypad, and he would receive a text message with his confirmation number.

“I started to get a little suspicious, so I said I didn’t want to give you any more information over the phone, and the guy said ‘good for you to be careful, we’ll remind you of our recognizable Kiwibank Number’.

“So when he called back from an 0800 number that Googled Kiwibank I thought yes that was much more legit.”

The caller then asked for his secure key code, which set off the alarm bells again.

Clarke said he’d rather go to a bank, to which the scammer responded by saying that was fine, but his accounts would be locked as he couldn’t verify his identity before ending the call.

Clarke then immediately called Kiwibank again, and it was confirmed to be a scam.

“Honestly, I was shocked at the level of deception,” he said.

The caller was empathetic, professional and calm, and had a New Zealand accent that made Clarke feel more secure at first.

“I realize now that was a very naïve view,” he said.

Since posting the video on Tiktok, Clarke had heard more stories about what was happening to people.

A Kiwibank spokesperson said this type of activity is known as phone spoofing and has occurred intermittently over the past three months.

Identity theft occurs when a scammer calls customers pretending to be from a bank or telephone company.

“These scammers use a phone-hacking trick that makes calls appear to be coming from a legitimate 0800 or local number,” she said.

The scammer could ask customers to confirm a recent credit card transaction, then follow up and ask customers for their bank logins, passwords, or credit card information.

“If you’re not sure if you’ve been scammed, hang up and call the organization back on their public number.”

The bank would never ask for a PIN, password or bank card expiration date or CSV number, she said.

Lola R. McClure