When Scott Brown picked up an early-morning phone call yesterday he had no idea he was talking to a scammer.
The Maraenui Challenge service station employee said he almost lost hundreds of dollars to someone pretending to be from Epay, a digital payment system used by many retailers.
“This person rang up and told me they were doing an update on the system. She talked me through it and said she was removing items on the Epay system that weren’t required any more.”
Mr Brown said the woman told him to print out a $200 voucher and then provide the voucher details.
“Then she said we would do a $100 one because it hadn’t been used in the last week or so. It was then that I was alerted to the fact that it was a scam because it had been used in the last week, I printed one on Tuesday.”
He quickly hung up on the woman and rang Epay, and then police, to report the incident.
“They were actually quite alarmed about it and luckily enough they deleted the $200 one for me. It was an online internet credit and if someone wasn’t aware they [the scammers] could go through and take you for thousands of dollars.”
Mr Brown said the person sounded Filipino or European and was incredibly convincing.
“She knew the Epay system like the back of her hand. She knew all the details, how to take me through it, what buttons to press, what to get out of it and where everything was on the cards.”
An Epay spokesperson said it was aware of the phone scam and said scammers seemed to target people working night-shift hours.
Reports of the scam had increased in recent weeks and the spokesperson said every voucher had text on it warning retailers not to print vouchers over the phone.
“No Epay staff member will request you to print a voucher over the phone. Do not print a voucher without receiving payment first,” they said.
Mr Brown said he wanted other retailers in Hawke’s Bay to be aware of the scam as he almost fell prey to it himself.
“If someone is not aware they could be taken for thousands of dollars. This is the first time I’m aware of something like this.
“It was bloody scary because if I’d given her all that information it probably would have ended up costing me.”