Te Wānanga o Aotearoa hit by $US79,000 whaling scam

By Harata Brown

Māori Tertiary provider, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa has been hit by an email whaling scam that targets large corporations. The Executive Director of Finance at the organisation, Bronwyn Koroheke, transferred $US79,000 to an offshore bank account after receiving an email which appeared to be from TWOA's chief executive Jim Mather.

In a written response provided to Te Kāea, Chief Executive Officer Jim Mather says the money has not been lost, but rather frozen in a Hong Kong bank account where TWOA is working with the bank to recover the funds. Mather says he received a text on November 19 confirming that a payment had been made as requested. After inquiring about the payment, an investigation into the financial scam was launched.

Both the Hong Kong and NZ Police were said to have been alerted immediately about the payment. Mather says that the staff member at the centre of this incident, Bronwyn Koroheke has resigned by mutual agreement and was unable to further discuss employment matters relating to Koroheke.

Although Mather was unwilling to share what security measures or policies TWOA have in place, he says that they have re-emphasised to staff the necessity for strict adherence to their accounts payable policies and procedures. Mather also says that the organisation is taking responsibility for this issue.