Netsafe Quarterly Report July – September 2018

CEO Welcome

This quarter has seen another increase across all reports to Netsafe. 

This has been another record-high quarter for personal harm complaints, with 815 complaints made. In the scam space, Netsafe has had a large influx of reports of fake sextortion email scams over the quarter. Netsafe’s helpline has received hundreds of requests for assistance, and the advisory on our website shows thousands more people have viewed it in search of information. Although there has been a large spike in reports of this scam, thankfully reports of financial losses have been low.

Unfortunately, reports of financial losses to scams overall has not slowed. This week is Fraud Awareness Week – a week dedicated to raising awareness of scams and fraud in New Zealand. The theme for 2018 is ‘Stop and think – is this for real?’ and focuses on common scams. If your organisation would like to support the week, you can find resources on the Consumer Protection website.

The post-conference statement from The Crossroads conference is now available. The statement provides an overview of the key themes discussed and recommendations, that if implemented, will enhance online safety and digital resilience. The statement covers four key themes of the conference, along with six future directions.

Martin Cocker

CEO, Netsafe


Reporting Overview

July – September 2018 overview

Between July – September 2018, Netsafe received 6% more reports in total than the previous quarter and 33.4% more than the July – September 2017 period.





*percentage change based on reports made to Netsafe between 1 April 2018 – 30 June 2018.

2018 YTD overview (January – September)

Netsafe has received a total of 14,750 reports between January – September 2018. This is a 29% increase in reports from the same period in 2017.






Reports by age group July - September 2018

Overall reports to Netsafe by age group.









Reports by region July - September 2018

Auckland: 38.4%
Bay of Plenty: 5.7%
Canterbury: 11.8%
Gisborne: .6%
Hawke's Bay: 2.5%
Manawatu-Wanganui: 4.4%
Marlborough: 0.8%
Nelson: 2%
Northland: 4.1%
Otago: 5%
Southland: 1.8%
Taranaki: 1.6%
Tasman: 1.2%
Waikato: 7.4%
Wellington: 12.2%
West Coast: 0.4%


Reports by gender July - September 2018


FEMALE (-5.2%*)




MALE (+7.8%*)

*percentage change based on reports made to Netsafe between 1 April 2018 – 30 June 2018.

Personal Harm Reporting

Between July – September 2018 Netsafe received 815 personal harm complaints. This is 15.4% more than the previous quarter and a 42% increase from the same period in 2017. Personal harm complaints to Netsafe between January – September 2018 total 2,173 and are up 44.8% compared to the same period in 2017 from 1,501 to 2,173.

Top personal harm categories reported July - September 2018

Repeated unwanted communications


False allegations

Discloses sensitive personal facts

Threatening, intimidating & menacing

Who makes personal harm complaints? July - September 2018













Scam and Fraud Reporting

$7.4M in scam and fraud losses were reported to Netsafe between July – September 2018. Reported losses in 2018 have surpassed reported losses in 2017 by almost $16M. Losses reported in 2017 totalled $10.1M and currently sit at $26M for January – September 2018. 12.8% of scam and fraud reports to Netsafe between July – September 2018 involved financial loss.

Scam reporting trends

Fake sextortion email scam: A fake sextortion email phishing scam has been affecting New Zealanders in waves this quarter. Netsafe has received 738 reports relating to sextortion scams this quarter compared to 97 in the previous 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 July – September 2018







Scam & fraud snapshot January – September 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 

Applications are open for the next Netsafe Online Safety Grant round.

Projects and initiatives that will help to minimise online harm in New Zealand are eligible for up to $100,000 in match funding. Past grant recipients include Life Education Trust, Sticks ‘n’ Stones, Girl Guiding New Zealand, Antworks Studios and the University of Waikato. Applications are open until the end of February 2019. Find more information on our website.

In October, Netsafe held it’s Annual General Meeting for members. Our annual report is now available online for download. The annual report highlights the work that Netsafe has undertaken across the year, and includes case studies of the types of incidents our helpline is providing help with. If you’re interested in becoming a Netsafe member, you can find more information on our website.

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

Netsafe Research Releases



Online Hate Speech Report

This report was released 8 November 2018. The purpose of the report was to present findings from an exploratory study regarding adult New Zealanders’ personal experiences of and exposure to online hate speech. The study, which is part of a larger project regarding online risks and harm, is the first of its kind in the country. Netsafe, the Approved Agency under the Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015, carried out this study to contribute research evidence and insights to the understanding of the extent and impact of online hate speech in New Zealand.

High level findings

  • 11% of New Zealand adults reported having been personally targeted with online hate speech in the prior year.
  • Of those targeted, about 6 in 10 reported a negative impact from the experience.
  • In the prior year, about 3 in 10 of all participants had seen or encountered online hate speech that targeted someone else.

See the full report




Estimating Societal Costs of Cyberbullying

The report was released 10 October 2018. It was commissioned by Netsafe and undertaken by leading economist Shamubeel Eaqub to provide an assessment of the damage from online bullying and harassment. To date, cyberbullying has been primarily understood in terms of social cost and personal harm.

The report gives NZ a starting point to begin to understand the full impact of this behaviour here in New Zealand, and where to best focus interventions and responses. It highlights that cyberbullying has a much wider affect than the individual person being targeted and that more could be done to address the risks. 

High level findings

  • The estimated economic effect of online harm to individuals, communities and interventions is $444M every year.
  • 1 in 10 NZ adults have personally experienced online harm.
  • 64% of people are worried about the impact of cyberbullying and its effects on society at large.

See the full report


Netsafe Team Spotlight

Anjela Webster, Education Advsior

As Netsafe’s Education Advisor for the lower North Island and South Island, Anjela brings broad experience from her roles in education to work closely with schools to help them to develop safe online environments for young people. Anjela is available for presentations to schools, parents/whānau and community as well as by email and telephone for support and online safety advice.

Anjela has worked in education for over 25 years. In this time, Anjela has taught across all school sectors in both regions and cities, from ECE to Secondary education. She has held a variety of leadership roles in this time and recently completed her M.Ed., with a research focus on privacy and young people, and the supports available to help them navigate challenges and risks online.

You can contact Anjie by emailing [email protected]

Pauline Spence, Education Advisor

As Netsafe’s Education Advisor for the upper North Island, Pauline works closely with schools to help them to develop safe online environments for young people. She brings a wealth of facilitation, coaching and mentoring experience to the team and is equally at home working one to one or in large group settings. She is available to work directly in schools to support staff and parents/ whānau, as well as provide online safety advice and support via email and telephone.

Pauline has over 20 years’ experience in education both in New Zealand and internationally and while always a classroom teacher at heart, in recent years she has worked in large school improvement projects as an education consultant. She has led the development of professional learning programmes for teachers, contributed to the creation of programmes for school senior leaders and has been involved in the development and implementation of school wide systems.

You can contact Pauline  by emailing [email protected]

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 April 2018 – 30 June 2018. If you have queries about the information in this report, please email [email protected]