Scammers find new ways of duping victims

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Supplied Content (Edited)
Auckland, August 30, 2021

Bank of New Zealand has warned New Zealanders against increasing scams online as well as over the phone.

The warning came ahead of the Annual Scam Savvy Week being observed by the Bank from today (Monday, August 30, 2021) to Friday, September 3, 2021.

The Bank’s new research shows that about four out of five New Zealanders are targeted by a scam and nearly a quarter falling victim.

The research also reveals that one in five New Zealanders believe that organisations are not doing enough to keep their personal information safe.

BNZ Head of Financial Crime Ashley Kai Fong said that with the country in lockdown mode, more people are online – shopping, communicating, and keeping themselves busy.

Ashley Kai Fong Head of Financial Crime, BNZ

“But that comes with an increased risk of falling victim to the rising tide of scams and we all need to remain vigilant and get clued up on how to recognise and avoid scams. The best defence against scams is you. Knowing what to look for and what to do if you fall victim to a scam is one of the best ways to keep these criminals at bay,” he said.

Mr Fong said that launching Scam Savvy Week during lockdown was no brainer.

“New Zealanders are online and on their phones and we want them to have access to the tools and resources at that will help them stay safe,” he said.

Lockdown lessons

Kai Fong said that lockdowns create a unique opportunity for scammers.

“They are not only mimicking missed online deliveries but also offering expedited Covid tests and vaccinations for a fee. These are depraved and hideous scams that prey on people’s uncertainty, worry, and heightened stress levels. Remember, there is no cost to get a jab or a test. They are free and always will be. If you receive an email like this, report it to CERT NZ and if you’re unsure if it is legitimate or not, ring Healthline on 0800-3585453,” he said.

BNZ’s Scam Savvy tools this year are available in four languages – English, Te Reo Maori, Samoan and Tongan.

BNZ has also produced presentations for community groups to use and help their members get scam savvy. They are available in eight languages, English, Te Reo Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi and Punjabi.

Ethnic communities targeted

Mr Fong said that scammers are constantly trying new ways to con people into parting with their money and are targeting ethnic communities such as a recent “gifting scam” aimed at New Zealand’s Tongan community that was in effect a pyramid scheme.

He said that cryptocurrencies are being used to cheat people this year.

“Criminals are pouring huge levels of investment and organisation into scamming. Every day they are getting more sophisticated and successful, but the best line of defence remains the individual. Scam Savvy helps people spot a scam and know when to hang up, not reply or tell a family member, friend, the police or their bank. Even if someone falls victim to a scam the sooner we, or the police, are told about it, the more we can do to get their money back and protect them from further harm,” he said.

Businesses alerted

In a stark warning to businesses, Mr Fong said that the rising tide of scams is affecting New Zealanders’ confidence in the companies and organisations they use.

“Our research shows that one in five New Zealanders is not confident companies and organisations are doing enough to keep personal data safe and secure. Concern about personal data in general also continues to grow with 54% of people more concerned about it than last year. This comes off the back of some very high-profile data leaks, such as the ransomware attack on the Waikato DHB, and the attack on server monitoring software Kaseya which small organisations, companies, and schools use to manage their systems.

“Businesses are generally doing a good job of protecting data, but our research is a good reminder to organisations of all sizes that we all need to work hard to honour the trust our customers put in us to protect their data,” he said.

Scam Savvy Research

Other key findings of the BNZ Scam Savvy Research included some of the top scams targeting New Zealanders: (1) Remote access scam 35% (2) Scams masquerading as government services or departments 20% (3) Inheritance scam 20% (4) Crypto investments scams 16% (5) Invoice scams continue to target businesses, generating most losses by value (6) The average amount of money lost to a scam was $1638 (7) One in ten people (11%) surveyed are hesitant going online for fear of being scammed (8) 83% of people said that they would report being scammed to either Netsafe 38%, Cert NZ 9%, their bank 60%, the Police 55%, but in reality, only half 52% of those surveyed who were scammed reported it, and only 29% reported it to their bank (9) Nearly a third of people under the age of 44 have been targeted by a crypto scam (10) Phishing emails still one of the main tactics used by scammers to defraud people

Tools to help protect New Zealanders from scams can be found at

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