A New Zealand private investigations company is calling for more to be done about protecting Kiwis from online scammers because despite some publicity the problem appears to be ongoing or worsening.
Licensed private investigator and CEO of Moratti and Associates, Rod Moratti, said today that he receives one or two inquiries daily from people who have been scammed – or are at risk of being scammed – in a variety of ways, particularly when possible romance is involved.
“The scams vary from the common Nigerian schemes to honey traps and some catfishing by young Kiwi women, although the catfishing is more for so-called fun than for financial gain.
“A common thread involves fabricating online and social media identities to lure people into emotional relationships. The ‘Russian beauty’ scam is relentless, but in every instance of online scamming the words and the photos used are enticing – they give their victims a warm feeling.”
Mr Moratti said he is particularly concerned because New Zealanders from every walk of life are falling for the online scams.
“It’s human nature to be wanted and these emails make people feel good. I believe that we need a national publicity campaign to raise awareness about the risks. They are causing tremendous harm to people’s finances, emotions and families.
“In one of the scams I have investigated, they used photos of Australian female singer and songwriter, Jessica Green. The entertainer’s manager, her mother, informed me that it is a regular occurrence for her daughter’s photo to be misused for false online identities,” he said.
Mr Moratti has the following advice for people who believe they are in an online relationship with somebody they have never met face-to-face:
Google the photo of the person you are involved with online.
Google the wording used in their emails or social media chats (this is useful for identifying scammers).
If the email starts with ‘hello dear’, delete it and block the sender.
If they ask for money, you may need to accept that you are being scammed.
Never pay money to somebody you have not met face-to-face.
Mr Moratti said people are drawn in by the intrigue, the feeling of a having a ‘secret’ or just because they are lonely or unhappy and want to find romance.
For more information visit http://www.moratti.co.nz/