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Kiwis' scam losses hit $18.6m, eclipsing last year's figures

By Sara Barker
Mon 27 Aug 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Netsafe has released its April-June Quarterly Report highlights, and it doesn’t look like the flood of scams and its victims will stop anytime soon.

Financial losses from scams have already exceeded those from the entirety of 2017 – this year Kiwis have lost a staggering $18.6 million, compared to $10.1 million last year.

Between April and June 2018, Netsafe received 5007 reports, of which 2824 were about scam and fraud. That’s a 17.3% increase over the previous quarter’s reports.

Between January and June, Netsafe received 760 reports that involved losses, with an average loss of $24,473.

Narrowing that down to the April-June quarter, there were 366 reports involving losses, with the average loss of $16,666. Kiwis lost $6.1 million over the quarter.

Netsafe says the most common scam categories over the April-June period include fake tech support; investment cold calls; goods paid for but not received; worthless, unnecessary or non-existent services; and prize promotion/sweepstakes scams.

Netsafe explains two of the most common frauds:

General investment fraud: Reports about general investment fraud had the highest total losses between April – June 2018. There were 16 reports with losses made to Netsafe and a total of $1.4M in losses. The average loss to investment fraud reported this quarter was $87,500.”

Fake invoice scams: In the first half of 2018 $856,000 in losses to invoice scams were reported to Netsafe – an increase of 438% from losses in the same period in 2017 of $159,000. 110 invoice scam reports were made from Jan – June 2018, compared to 37 in Jan – June 2017. 17 of the 110 reports contained financial loss with an average loss of $50,352.”

Recently Netsafe teamed up with Spark to help raise awareness about the dangers of scams. Spark now distributes scam awareness brochures with the purchase of every new phone. The brochures are also available in Spark stores, as well as Age Concern and Senior Net branches.

Netsafe director of technology and partnerships Sean Lyons says scams are on the increase.

“With Spark being one of the largest digital services companies in New Zealand, it’s unsurprising that a large number of reports involve Spark. Scams are a complex issue that requires a co-ordinated approach across sectors, so it’s great to see Spark taking proactive steps to raise awareness of scams to help protect their customers,” Lyons commented earlier this month.

People in New Zealand who are experiencing an online issue can contact Netsafe for free information and advice by calling 0508 NETSAFE or visiting www.netsafe.org.nz. Netsafe's helpline is open 8am-8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am-5pm weekends and public holidays.

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