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Uni student falls for $46,000 lottery con


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Uni student falls for $46,000 lottery con

5:00AM Monday June 02, 2008
By Lincoln Tan

Auckland University undergraduate Henry Chen was told he had won a lottery and was a millionaire.

But after borrowing nearly $46,000 from his parents to pay “advance taxes” to the supposed authorities in Hong Kong, he found the promised prize money of nearly $1.5 million still didn’t show up in his bank account.

When he inquired, he was told he had to pay even more taxes because he was not a Hong Kong national but a New Zealand citizen. Only then did he realise he had been duped.

Mr Chen was one of several victims who have contacted National MP Pansy Wong for help, as scammers continue to target NZ’s Chinese communities.

Describing such scams as “widespread”, Mrs Wong said the conmen would phone victims to congratulate them in Mandarin about winning a lottery and, in separate phone calls, ask them to pay advance taxes and foreign exchange fees in order to get their winnings.

Mr Chen said he fell for the scam because, unlike other internet scams he had read about, “this one had a real person, an Auckland phone contact and even another local winner for me to verify with”.

Even his parents, who live in Hong Kong, thought it was legitimate and agreed to lend him the money.

“At first the amount they asked for was small so I didn’t mind paying to try to get the money, but after I had paid over $45,748 and they asked for another $68,400, that is when I realised I had been tricked.”

Another victim, who did not want to be identified, said: “Of course we are all aware of the Nigerian scams where scammers are based in Nigeria, but I was less suspicious because these people spoke Chinese and had local Auckland telephone numbers.”

She had been conned into parting with nearly $3000 but did not go to the police because she didn’t think “they would bother to investigate such small crimes”, especially “since the victims are Chinese. I just consider what I lost as payment for a very expensive lesson,” she said.

Mr Chen has made police reports both in New Zealand and Hong Kong, and his mother told him that a fortnight ago Hong Kong officers arrested a few people thought to be linked to the scam.

However, he says he still has not heard from the local police since making the report in April, and that was why he turned to Mrs Wong for help.

The officer who Mr Chen said recorded his report did not return the Herald’s call yesterday.

Mrs Wong said the police’s slow response to crimes of this nature was encouraging fraudsters to continue targeting migrants, who she says are seen as “easy targets”.

Meanwhile, another online scam soliciting “donations” for victims of the China earthquake has also surfaced.

One recipient, Mrs Betty Zhang, said she received an official-looking Chinese-scripted email attachment titled: “She has lost everything in the earthquake and she needs your help”.

But seconds after she opened the email attachment, her computer system crashed and within the hour she received a phone call from someone claiming to be from a charity asking her to send money to a Hong Kong bank account to help the girl mentioned in the email. Mrs Zhang didn’t send any money.

Cyberspace conmen around the world are trying to capitalise on the plight of survivors of the earthquake in China.

Last month, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation issued a warning on the China quake scam and on fake Red Cross donation websites, urging people to wire money to numbered bank accounts.


June 5, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. so tell me now. are the con men Nigerians or Chinese using Nigerian techniques?

    Comment by enrite | July 18, 2008 | Reply

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