The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has issued a warning on a money transfer scam involving scammers attempting to impersonate the regulator.
The FMA said it received a report from a woman who had tried to transfer a significant amount of money from China to New Zealand as she and her family had been “stranded in New Zealand” due to the COVID-19 pandemic and needed money for living expenses.
She explained that she had seen an advertisement on a community news outlet offering money transfer services then arranged the transfer via WeChat, with the money sent to a bank in Inner Mongolia. However, the money did not arrive.
The woman had received a warning that the money had been “frozen” by the FMA due to money laundering suspicions. She was later phoned by a man posing as an FMA employee, falsely saying that she needs to pay more to release the original sum.
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FMA director of regulation Liam Mason commented that there are many ways people can protect themselves from scams.
“We are trying to ascertain if the scammer is in New Zealand, as they appear to have had some local knowledge, and also if anyone else has been defrauded by them,” Mason said.
“Be sure to only transfer money through businesses on New Zealand's Financial Service Providers Register. Don't fall for the scammers' line that you must pay more money to release your original funds. And know that the FMA would never freeze money remittance or ask you to pay any money.”