An Auckland doctor lost $300,000 after a Nigeria-based
fraudster hacked into his father's email account and, posing
as the father, asked for the transfer of family money.
The doctor, who works in emergency medicine, is fighting to
get the cash back and wants to warn others to be vigilant
about online security.
Speaking to the Herald about his ordeal during International
Fraud Awareness Week he was angry and frustrated that he had
been so easily duped.
The doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was
holding just over $300,000 of family money in an account in
New Zealand. The money had been earmarked to buy property in
Auckland or Britain where the doctor's parents live.
A decision was made to make an offer on a property in England
and the doctor spoke to his father on the phone about
transferring the money to a UK account.
"He told me verbally to send the money over, but later sent
an email saying not to do it as the offer had been rejected,"
the doctor told the Herald.
"Twelve hours later I got another email sounding like it was
continuing on from that conversation. It said good news, the
offer has been accepted so send the money through. I had an
ongoing conversation with who I thought was my father."
The doctor transferred the money to a bank account that
appeared to have been set up in his father's name. As he was
communicating with his father from his legitimate Yahoo.
co.uk email address, he had no reason to suspect anything was
amiss. When he spoke to his father days later he realised he
had been scammed.
He believes the fraudster used a phishing technique to gain
access to his father's email account in which a fake password
prompt was sent to "confirm" the user's personal details.
The fraudster then used those details to access the email
account and monitor the father and son's conversation before
stepping in and pretended to be the older man.
The doctor contacted both his bank and the one that he
transferred the money to, as well as the police. He is
waiting to find out if there is any way he can recoup his
"My main error was that I didn't make the telephone call to
my dad for confirmation. But I'm pretty busy, I don't have
the time to speak to my parents on the phone all the time. I
think I should have though," he said.
"We are all frustrated, it's a massive chunk of money. I feel
somewhat stupid, but when I go and read back through the
email chain [the scammer] was pretty convincing."
He wanted to warn others about phishing and transferring
Detective Senior Sergeant Aaron Pascoe said the scam appeared
to be Nigeria-based.
Consumer Affairs warned that scams succeed because they look
like the real thing.
"Scams are constantly evolving and becoming more and more
sophisticated so that they can fool even the most tech-savvy
- Anna Leask of The New Zealand Herald