An eye-watering $10.1million was lost by vulnerable Kiwis to online scams and fraud last year.

The largest single loss reported to Netsafe was $480,000 for an investment scam, while $1.4m was lost to online romance scams.

Over 2017, Auckland residents reported the highest loss by region at $2.7 million, ahead of losses in Wellington of $1.14 million and losses in Canterbury of $969,000. Only the Chatham Islands reported $0 worth of scams.

New Zealanders lost over $10million last year to online scams and fraud, Netsafe reported. Photo / 123RF
New Zealanders lost over $10million last year to online scams and fraud, Netsafe reported. Photo / 123RF

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said that the reported losses were just the tip of the iceberg.


"In the last week Netsafe has received two reports where people have lost several hundred thousand dollars to scams.

"We do find that some people feel embarrassed about reporting these losses, but it's important to report so we accurately understand the scale of the problem, and can evolve our national response and education accordingly."

Cocker explained that online scams and fraud are often tightly run schemes operated by criminal groups.

Scammers take advantage of technology and digital marketing techniques to create scams that appear more authentic. Many online scams and fraud are difficult to police as they are operated outside of New Zealand.

"Generally, these criminal enterprises are based off shore, so it's very unlikely that targets will be able to recover the money – basically once it's gone, it's gone," Cocker said.

"That's why proactive education is important to mitigate the risk in the first instance. We encourage everyone, no matter how digitally savvy they think they are, to improve their knowledge of scams and to talk to friends or family who might need a bit of extra help."

The most common scam reported was the fake PC tech support scam. This is where scammers make contact about a fake issue with a computer and offer to fix it by requesting remote access to the device.

People can get advice or report a scam to Netsafe by calling 0508 NETSAFE.

​Netsafe's tips to avoid scams

• Think twice if you're unexpectedly contacted about a deal or problem.
• Don't respond to unexpected contact about problems with your computer.
• Legitimate organisations will never ask for your passwords.
• Think carefully before entering your personal details online or giving them to someone.
• Be wary of unusual payment requests like gift cards, money transfer or iTunes vouchers.
• Be wary of partners recently met online who request money or hint at money problems.
• If you're using a trusted trading or booking website, don't pay outside of it.
• If you're not sure if something is genuine you can contact Netsafe for free advice