An Auckland woman, tricked into paying thousands into the wrong bank account, doesn’t know whether she’ll get her money back and wants to warn others about the elaborate ruse.

The woman, a Consumer member who doesn’t want to be named, thought she was paying $14,000 into her builder’s bank account through internet banking. However, the builder’s email had been hacked and an invoice sent with an altered account number. When the money didn’t show up in the builder’s account, it sounded alarm bells.

The woman contacted her bank, ANZ, but by then — just two days later — the money was gone. Nearly a month later, our member is still waiting to hear the results of police and ANZ investigations into the incident.

ANZ said it’s aware this type of scam is targeting the building industry and had previously alerted bank staff after its fraud team had flagged the problem. But a security alert was only posted on the bank’s website in May.

Another Consumer member had a similar experience last year. Her builder’s email account was hacked, a false invoice sent and her payments diverted to the wrong account. Her bank, Kiwibank, made a goodwill payment of $3300, half the amount she’d lost.

If you think you’ve been a victim of this scam, report it to the police and your bank immediately. We think banks also need to be proactive in alerting customers to these scams.