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'It was just horror': Five min scam call drained 86-year-old's savings for son's funeral

Author
Eva de Jong,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Nov 2023, 7:12am

'It was just horror': Five min scam call drained 86-year-old's savings for son's funeral

Author
Eva de Jong,
Publish Date
Thu, 9 Nov 2023, 7:12am

A five-minute phone call left Katherine Corry’s bank account drained of money she had put aside for her son’s funeral. 

On September 26 Corry was sent a text message saying there was suspicious activity in her Kiwibank account. 

She opened the text and then received a phone call from a male scammer impersonating a Kiwibank worker. 

Corry said he accurately listed a series of past transactions she had made and told her he was inside her account. 

“I told him [the scammer] I’ve been sick and my son who lived with me has just recently died, so I’m a bit all over the place.” 

Corry had already spent $45,000 on treatment for her son who died of bowel cancer in July, and part of the $9900 stolen from her in the scam was intended for his funeral. 

“It was just horror and feeling so stupid.” 

Sue Taylor (right) the daughter of the 86 year old Kathrine Corry who was scammed.  Photo / Bevan ConleySue Taylor (right) the daughter of the 86 year old Kathrine Corry who was scammed. Photo / Bevan Conley 

He convinced Corry to tell him the unique code she had set up with Kiwibank, and then said he would place her on hold. 

Corry sat down to have dinner and when she re-checked the phone the line had gone dead. She opened up her bank account and saw $9900 had been withdrawn. 

“I couldn’t speak, I just said to Ken [Corry’s brother-in-law] ‘It’s gone, my money’s gone’.” 

Corry said the scam had left her feeling helpless and she struggled not to feel guilty about it. 

“It’s been difficult because it’s been an emotional time as well as financially. 

“I’m still really grieving for my son which will go on for a long time.” 

Corry contacted Kiwibank immediately after the scam and was told her account would be frozen for 15 days and then she’d be contacted by the bank. 

But when that failed to happen, she was told by staff that the fraud investigation team was currently “snowed under”. 

Corry’s daughter Sue Taylor said she couldn’t understand how the withdrawal wasn’t flagged by Kiwibank as being suspicious, considering the large sum of money was made under a foreign name to an offshore account. 

“The scam transaction sticks out by a mile all of her transactions are local and small.” 

After the Chronicle contacted Kiwibank to ask why the payment didn’t raise security concerns, Corry was contacted by Kiwibank and informed she would be reimbursed the full amount. 

A Kiwibank spokeswoman said scams have become increasingly sophisticated over the years and can involve someone pretending to be from a phone company or a bank and requesting password information. 

“In this case the transaction triggered a flag in our system as suspicious activity, our fraud team investigated, and the customer has been reimbursed in full.” 

There are also instances where fraudsters build relationships with victims through online conversations and then ask them for money, she said. 

Corry said it was “wonderful” to know her money was being returned as she had given up hope. 

“I just want people to continue to be aware to be really, really careful.” 

Eva de Jong is a reporter for the Whanganui Chronicle covering health stories and general news. She began as a reporter in 2023. 

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