A retiree is nearly $200 out of pocket after falling victim to an email scam and wants his experience to serve as a warning to others.
In February, Kerry Taylor, 77, responded to a Countdown survey sent to his iCloud email.
The instructions seemed harmless: answer the four provided questions relating to his shopping habits and he would go in a draw to win a prize.
But much to Taylor’s surprise he was told he was a winner as soon as the survey was complete.
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“All I had to do was pay for the postage,” Taylor, of Waitara, said
And he provided his credit card details to do so.
Nearly three months on and Taylor is still fighting to recoup the recurring costs charged to his Visa.
To date, there have been three charges. The first was the postage fee of $9.
“That was fine,” he said.
Within two weeks he had received his weight management products, his elected prize of the five available to choose from.
But it wasn’t long before another payment of about $280 showed up on his same account. And then a second shipment of product.
He managed to track down a Wellington number related to the business name provided on his account statement.
They told Taylor they would refund his money. Which they did.
“They told me to keep the product but I was wary and so I haven’t opened it,” he said.
Then the following month he noticed two concurrent charges, one of $96 and another of $90.
Taylor said all of the charges, including the refund, displayed different business names.
Two were charged in US dollars, while the other was charged and then refunded in Australian.
“I found another phone number and they told me the new charges were for my initial prize.”
He was told the fine print in the competition detailed the payment.
Taylor concedes he’s been duped and was unlikely to get his money back.
He said the people on the other end of the phone sounded like they were sitting in another country.
“They weren’t English-speaking. They were very hard to understand.”
He’s been advised by his bank to cancel his credit card and says he was also told by them “seven other people” had recently made similar complaints.
Taylor now wants people to think twice before sharing their credit card details online.
“Nobody will be getting mine,” he said.
Countdown spokesperson, James Walker, has confirmed the survey had nothing to do with the grocery chain.
Major retailers were often targeted by scammers because they have large customer bases and often ran competitions.
Countdown did run legitimate competitions but these were promoted on its website and its verified Facebook page.
When made aware of an online scam Countdown updated the scams page on its website, Walker said.
“If customers are in any doubt about a promotion proclaiming to be from Countdown, they should contact us.”
There had been an increase in known businesses being used in email scams, Netsafe’s director of outreach, Sean Lyons, recently said in a joint statement with Countdown.
“People are lulled into a false sense of security because the email appears to be from a trusted brand, so they let their guard down,” he said.
“Scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their approaches, so it’s important to always make sure that surveys, links and requests for information are coming from a legitimate source.”