Kiwis lost $10 million to online scams in 2017, and wily scammers are dropping mass-contact scams for more elaborate ploys, according to Netsafe.

One investment scam reported a loss of $480,000, dwarfing the average loss of $10,771, in losses reported to Netsafe last year.

Kiwis also lost $1.4m to online romance scams.

The fault was not on victims who some people might think were "greedy" or "foolish", as scammers were using more sophisticated methods to get money out of people, said Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker.


Some scammers had moved away from traditional scam models that used cheap communications technology to reach large volumes of people in order to find those who were vulnerable.

Now, scammers were taking time to set victims up by leveraging the huge volumes of personal data available on the internet.

"Scammers are taking advantage of technology and digital marketing techniques to create
scams that appear authentic.

"These scams are multi-faceted, often using several well-executed marketing elements designed to mimic well-known organisations and processes that people trust," Cocker said.

Recent cases of people imitating Air New Zealand and Whittakers were good examples of this.

The most common scams reported to Netsafe were tech support scams.

Scammers made contact with people about a fake issue with a computer and offered to fix it by requesting remote access to the device.

The old adage of "it if seem too good to be true, it probably is" was no longer applicable.

Now it would be more accurate to say "even if it seems like a reasonable deal, it could still be a scam", Cocker said.

Netsafe's tips to protect you from scams:

• Don't respond to phone calls or contact about your computer asking for remote
access to fix it. No one will contact you out of the blue about a problem with your

• Use good, strong passwords on your online accounts and don't tell anyone what they are. Legitimate organisations will never ask for your passwords. Use two-factor authentication on accounts where you can.

• Always keep your personal information secure. Think carefully before entering your details online, or giving them to someone.

• If someone offers you money, or another offer, but you have to make a payment upfront, ignore it. This is a common tactic of scammers.

• Use a good antivirus program and keep your software up to date. This will help to protect your device from someone trying to access it.

• Be wary of unusual payment requests. Scammers try to use payments that can't be traced such as pre-loaded debit cards, gift cards that can be used online, iTunes cards or money transfer systems.

• If you're using a trusted trading or booking website or app, always complete the deal using the payment system in the platform.

• If you're not sure if something is legitimate you can contact Netsafe for free advice on 0508 NETSAFE or visit