A slick new online banking scam is fooling New Zealanders into losing large sums of money says Police E-Crime National Manager Maarten Kleintjes.
The site www.devancy.com, running since late July, has a very professional look and is customised for New Zealand readers. A sister scam site called www.avantyx.com is customised for Australians.
Both sites claim to be business partners with all the leading banks including ANZ, ASB, BNZ, National Bank, and Westpac. Curiously the New Zealand site also lists the old Countrywide Bank which was sold to National Bank 5 years ago.
New Zealand Police has contacted the banks and has confirmed that they are not in partnership with these web sites nor were they aware that their names were being used in the scam.
Investigations by the E-Crime Lab have established that the scam is running from Denmark via USA. An international effort will be required to find those behind the sites.
The scam works by convincing people to accept deposits into their bank accounts which they then forward to a third party minus a transaction fee. The initial deposit is then retracted.
"Devancy deposit, say $10,000 into your account, then you send $9,500 on to someone else the same day. Devancy then quickly cancel their $10,000 deposit. You just sent $9,500 of your own savings to a Devancy associate," Mr Kleintjes says.
"The key to this scam is building a very convincing web site that looks just like a real financial services web site."
Mr Kleintjes advises people visiting the site not to be taken in by its authentic appearance. "It can't be true if they offer money for free," he says.
If members of the public do believe they have been prey to this scheme then they should immediately contact their bank.
The Consumers' Institute compiles information on all manner of scams at www.consumer.org.nz.
Police are publicising the scam as a warning for the public to steer well clear. Given the international nature of this scam the likelihood of Police taking successful prosecution action and recovering money for victims is not high. It really is a case of advising people to avoid being ripped off in the first place, Mr Kleintjes says.