Netsafe Quarterly Report October – December 2018

CEO Welcome

This quarterly report includes a snapshot of reporting for 2018.

It shows that New Zealanders reported over 13,000 instances of online scams and fraud and $33M in losses to Netsafe last year – up from $10.1M in 2017.

These are by far the largest losses that Netsafe has seen in the 20 years that we’ve been operating. Online scams continue to be a pervasive issue for New Zealand, and we believe that more co-ordination and support is needed to protect Kiwis.  More than ever, we are seeing waves of scams hitting the country, with the fake sextortion scam being the most recent. The only way to protect people is through targeted public education and co-ordinated national efforts to disrupt scams in New Zealand, and we’re working towards both of these approaches.

Personal harm reports increased in 2018 too. We received close to 3,000 reports of personal harm in 2018, up 45% from the previous year. This isn’t surprising as we know that many people are affected by online abuse, but it is encouraging to know that more people are aware of and using the help service available.

Netsafe members receive our quarterly reports before they are publicly released. Membership is free, easy to apply for and it gives you and your organisation the opportunity to play a part in the development of online safety in New Zealand.

Find out more about being a Netsafe member, or apply to join today by completing our online form.

Martin Cocker

CEO, Netsafe


2018 Year in Review

Scam & Fraud

Online harm review

October – December 2018 Quarterly Reporting

October – December 2018 overview

Between October – December 2018, Netsafe received 28.8% more reports than the previous quarter. Reports have increased 82.9% from the same period in 2017.







*percentage change based on reports made to Netsafe between 1 July – 30 September 2018.

Reports by age group October - December 2018

Overall reports to Netsafe by age group.









Reports by gender October - December 2018







Personal Harm Reporting

Between October – December 2018 Netsafe received 769 personal harm complaints. This is a 45% increase from the same period in 2017. Personal harm complaints to Netsafe between January – December 2018 total 2,957 and are up 45% compared to 2017 when 2,034 were received.

Top personal harm categories reported October - December 2018

Repeated unwanted communications


False allegations

Discloses sensitive personal facts

Threatening, intimidating & menacing

Scam and Fraud Reporting

$7.3M in scam and fraud losses were reported to Netsafe between October – December 2018.

Reported losses for 2018 were $33M –  more than triple the $10.1M reported losses in 2017. The average reported loss has also risen from $10,771 in 2017 to $21,285 in 2018. Over the last five years from 2013-2018, $76.2M in scam and fraud losses have been reported to Netsafe.

Scam reporting trends

Fake sextortion email scam: The fake sextortion email phishing scam has still been affecting New Zealanders in waves this quarter. Although there has been a large influx in reports, reported financial losses to this scam have been low. We believe that this is partly because many people do not understand how to make payments using Bitcoin.

How does the scam work? People receive an email that claims their computer has been hacked and that the scammer has recorded intimate recordings of them using a porn website. In some versions of this scam the email header also includes the victim’s password for their online accounts. The email demands that they send a payment (often as Bitcoin) to the scammer or claims they will send the recording to the victim’s personal contacts which they claim to have access to. Find out more about the scam on our website.

Scam & fraud snapshot October – December 2018







Scam & fraud snapshot January – December 2018








Top scam categories reported July - September 2018

Investment Fraud

Employment Fraud

Prize & Grant Fraud

Products & Services Fraud

Relationship & Trust Fraud

Education & Engagement Update

Sean Lyons, Director of Education and Engagement 

In December we launched the ‘Don’t be a Nick’ campaign.

The Don’t be a Nick campaign was centred around image-based sexual abuse (IBSA), as research shows that IBSA is one of the most harmful types of digital communications. It was targeted at young people (16-22) who we know are amongst those who are disproportionately affected by the issue. Research shows that victim-blaming perceptions embolden perpetrators, stop victims seeking help and undermine bystander intervention, so the campaign focussed on changing perceptions and attitudes around IBSA. We looked at both local and international research in the space and our Netsafe Youth Action Squad were also consulted.

We aimed to use humour to discuss a serious issue in a disarming way, make it feel OK to speak up when seeing IBSA and create ways for young people to intervene as bystanders. The campaign was created by the Netsafe team with a bit of quirkiness to create something ‘shareable’ to extend our reach. Although the campaign was quirky and used humour, the message is still clear – it’s not OK to share someone’s nudes without consent. This puts the accountability squarely on the person on-sharing the nude, instead of focussing on the person in the nude image/video. The campaign ran for just under a week in December with great results. If you’d like to see the campaign content, you can do so at

If you’d like to get in touch you can email me at [email protected] 

Don't be a Nick

Netsafe Youth Action Squad (Y.A.S!)

In August 2018, Netsafe started looking for a group of young people to create a Youth Action Squad – Y.A.S! We advertised for applicants on Instagram and had people from all around the country apply to be a part of Y.A.S. In just a few weeks, we had the Y.A.S ready to share ideas about online safety from the perspective of young people in New Zealand.

The Y.A.S now meet every month to talk about online safety, give advice and to explore ideas about how to make the online space safer for young people in NZ. Find out more about the Y.A.S on our website, and keep up with their work by following Netsafe on Twitter or Instagram @NetsafeNZ 

Netsafe Media Releases

Icon mobile phone with emoji cursing symbols

Cyberbullying $444M problem

Media release: 10 October 2018

Icon of parents with two school kids

Parents’ top online concerns

Media release: 10 December 2018
Icon of person naked holding bra with censored areas

Image based abuse problem for all Kiwis

Media release: 23 January 2019

Netsafe Research Releases



Image Based Abuse Report

This report was released in January 2019. It presents findings from a larger quantitative study about New Zealand adults’ experiences of harmful digital communications. The report focuses on the prevalence of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA), and people’s attitudes regarding different aspects of it. The findings described in this report are based on data collected from a nationally representative sample.

High level findings

  • Overall, nearly 5% of adult New Zealanders said they have personally experienced image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) online.
  • IBSA is more common among young adults, especially those aged under 30.
  • In general, men and women were equally as likely to experience IBSA online, but the research indicates that the nature of the experiences differ.

See the full report




Parenting and Pornography: findings from Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom

This report was released in December 2018. Recognising the important role parents play in protecting their children from risks online such as exposure to pornography, Netsafe, alongside the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in Australia, and the Safer Internet Centre with the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom (UK), collaborated on research that explores how parents think, and engage with this issue.

See the full report




Parenting & Pornography: NZ Report

This report was released in December 2018. It presents findings from a larger quantitative study about parenting, digital technologies and online risks. It focuses on parents and caregivers’ awareness and attitudes regarding their child’s exposure to sexually explicit content online. The study was conducted in New Zealand based on a nationally representative sample.

High level findings

  • Parents’ main online concerns are their children sharing nudes of themselves, being treated in a hurtful way, and seeing sexually explicit content.
  • 1 in 5 parents said their children were exposed to sexually explicit content online in the prior year.
  • Parents reported children’s exposure to sexually explicit content increased with age; and exposure to sexually explicit content was more common among boys.

See the full report


Become a Netsafe member

Netsafe members receive our quarterly reports before they are publicly released. Netsafe is an incorporated society with members from across the country. Our members represent organisations with an interest in building confidence in using digital technology. Membership is free, easy to apply for and it gives you and your organisation the opportunity to play a part in the development of online safety and the use of digital technology right here in New Zealand.

Find out more about being a Netsafe member, or apply to join today by completing our online form.

About Netsafe

Netsafe is New Zealand’s independent, non-profit online safety organisation. Taking a technology-positive approach to the challenges that digital technology presents, we work to help people in New Zealand take advantage of the opportunities available through technology by providing practical tools, support and advice for managing online challenges. 

Find out more about Netsafe at

Report Data

The data in this quarterly report comes from reports/complaints made to Netsafe during the reporting period. The report is reflective of the data available for reports/complaints at the point in time that the data has been provided for the quarterly report – within six weeks of the quarter ending.

Reports/complaints are made to Netsafe by individuals, businesses and other organisations. The insights in this report come from high level reporting trends, and do not include easily identifiable information about specific reports/complaints.

For media queries please email [email protected]

*percentage change based on reports/complaints made to Netsafe in the previous quarter of 1 July 2018 – 30 September 2018. If you have queries about the information in this report, please email [email protected]