In 2017, Kiwis reported losing $10.1 million dollars to online scams and fraud to Netsafe. The largest single loss reported was $480,000 to an investment scam. Auckland residents reported the highest loss by region at $2.7 million, ahead of losses in Wellington of $1.14 million and losses in Canterbury of $969,000. Over the last 5 years, New Zealanders have reported $47.6 million in online scam and fraud losses to Netsafe. In reality, the reported losses likely represent only a small percentage of actual money lost.
Online scams and fraud are lucrative endeavours, and many are tightly run schemes operated by criminal groups. Scam tactics are becoming more sophisticated as scammers take advantage of technology and digital marketing techniques to create scams that appear more authentic than they have in the past.
Online scams and fraud are a difficult issue to address as many scams are operated outside of New Zealand. Generally, these criminal enterprises are based off shore, so it’s very unlikely that targets will be able to recover the money. That’s why proactive education is important to mitigate the risk in the first instance. We encourage everyone, no matter how digitally savvy they think they are, to improve their knowledge of scams and to talk to friends or family who might need a bit of extra help.
The scam most commonly reported to Netsafe in 2017 was the fake PC tech support scam. Scammers make contact about a fake issue with a computer and offer to fix it by requesting remote access to the device. Kiwis lost $1.4m to online romance scams in 2017.
People in New Zealand can get advice or report a scam to Netsafe by calling 0508 NETSAFE or by visiting www.netsafe.org.nz/report.
Tips to avoid scams
- Think twice if you’re unexpectedly contacted about a deal or problem.
- Don’t respond to unexpected contact about problems with your computer.
- Legitimate organisations will never ask you for your passwords.
- Think carefully before entering your personal details online or giving them to someone.
- Be wary of unusual payment requests like gift cards, money transfer or iTunes vouchers.
- Be wary of partners recently met online who request money or hint at money problems.
- If you’re using a trusted trading or booking website, don’t pay outside of it.
- If you’re not sure if something is genuine you can contact Netsafe for free advice.
Losses by region
Online scam and fraud losses reported to Netsafe in 2017 (NZD)
- Auckland $2,749,362.31
- Bay of Plenty $358,325.53
- Canterbury $969,052.98
- Chatham Islands $0
- Gisborne $563,744.00
- Hawke’s Bay $70,474.00
- Manawatu-Wanganui $609,689.30
- Marlborough $7,600.00
- Nelson $26,754.31
- Northland $31,621.48
- Otago $36,471.41
- Southland $20,933.85
- Taranaki $43,837.97
- Tasman $80,419.99
- Waikato $772,047.91
- Wellington $1,146,460.84
- West Coast $264.63
- Undisclosed $2,681,614.65
- Total losses $10,168,675.16
National online scam and fraud losses reported to Netsafe 2013 – 2017 (NZD)
- 2013 – $4.4M
- 2014 – $8M
- 2015 – $13.4M
- 2016 – $11.7M
- 2017 – $10.1M