Warning after woman falls victim to Facebook scam
Dunedin Women’s Refuge community outreach worker Mandy Durham displays one of the posters used by Women’s Refuge to teach women about the abusive potential of technology. Photo / David Beck
A Dunedin woman has been left $2500 out of pocket after a man she met online took advantage of her by telling her what she “wanted to hear”.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said a man from America added her on Facebook and started messaging her.
“He was saying things like he needed a friend. Within a day he started saying he loved me and could see a future with me,” she said.
That carried on for two weeks before he told her he had sent her a parcel with valuable gifts in it, and gave her the track and trace number.
She then received emails from a courier company in Malaysia asking for $2500 in tax.
She got out a loan and paid the $2500 before the courier company emailed again saying she would have to pay $15,000 for insurance – so she called the man who told her there was $600,000, a diamond ring, a watch, some jewellery and an iPhone 6.
“He said ‘please, please, please’ and I’m the type of person who will do anything for anyone so I went to the bank to get another loan. That’s when the lady there said I think we’re being scammed, I think we need to go and see the police.”
The police told her to stop all contact with the man but could not do anything about the $2500 because it had already left the country.
“It was an expensive lesson. It made me feel abused again; all my life I’ve been abused. People like me put ourselves into dangerous situations and he was saying things I wanted to hear, things I hadn’t heard for a long time. People like me who have been through hell – all we want is someone to say the right thing and we’ll do anything.”
Dunedin Women’s Refuge community outreach worker Mandy Durham said technology had become a tool for abusing and gaining control over others.
People like those who scammed this woman preyed on the vulnerable, she said.
“It’s the biggest thing that concerns me; there’s so much technology out there and the effect it can have on women is huge. It helps abuse seep through everything and women need to be careful about who they talk to.”
Facebook and online dating sites were “huge vessels for abuse” and online dating could be like a group of potential predators waiting for their next victim, she said.
“There’s verbal, physical and psychological abuse and now I find myself talking to women about text abuse. It has become another vessel to abuse somebody.”
When women came into the Women’s Refuge safe house 10 years ago they could not be contacted, she said.
“Now there are cellphones – her cellphone is a connection to her ex-partner. Cellphones take away your security in not being contacted.”