3 Apr 2019

Kiwis lose $33 million as online scam successes increase

7:44 am on 3 April 2019

New Zealanders lost $33 million to online scams and fraud in 2018, according to new figures from Netsafe.

Hacker working on hacking some information. Cyber scam. 13 November 2018

Photo: 123rf.com

That was a dramatic increase on 2017, when people lost $10 million.

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said the 13,000 reports of scams and losses they received in 2018 showed that more needs to be done to protect people.

"We're now seeing waves of successful scams hitting the country," he said.

"We know the lengths that scammers are taking to deceive New Zealanders and we know that existing interventions are having a limited effect."

Netsafe expected that the reports it received represented only a fraction of actual losses, with people confused about where to report scams, or embarrassed about being tricked.

As well as financial losses, Netsafe said scam victims also reported feeling frustrated and embarrassed, or losing confidence in using digital technology to make payments or connect with others.

The most common scam reported to Netsafe in 2018 was the fake tech support scam, where scammers make contact about a fake issue with a computer and offer to fix it.

The newest scam trend in 2018 was the fake sextortion scam, which falsely claimed that video footage of people watching pornography would be released unless a ransom is paid.

Invoice scams, investment fraud and romance scams were among the scams that resulted in the biggest losses for New Zealanders.

Annual reported scam and fraud losses to Netsafe 2013-2018:

  • 2018 - $33m
  • 2017 - $10.1m
  • 2016 - $11.7m
  • 2015 - $13.4m
  • 2014 - $8m
  • 2013 - $4.4m