BNZ says it has tried, and failed, to convince a lovestruck customer that he has been sending money to a scammer.

The customer met the scammer online, and they formed a "relationship", BNZ spokesman Sam Durbin says.

"The scammer has been exploiting the romantic feelings the customer has - initially asking to lend her some money to help her out of a difficult situation."

The requests kept coming, with payments adding up to more than $60,000 in just six months.


"Through our monitoring, we were alerted to the transactions and our investigations showed that she had been convicted of a similar fraud previously," Durbin says.

"We have spoken with our customer, flagging our concerns that they were being scammed and sharing with them evidence so that they could form their own view and advising them not to give her any more money.

"But despite all this, the scammer has formed a strong emotional bond with the customer still believes she has genuine intentions."

So is the man going to send any more money to the convicted fraudster?

"Ultimately it's his money so it's hard for us to intervene,' Durbin says.

"We're continuing to talk to the customer about it though."

Durbin says the episode shows "just how persuasive and sophisticated scams are becoming. Scammers prey on our best qualities, our trust and compassion, and they take advantage of good people."

Netsafe stats back up his warning.


The agency says last year, more than 200 Kiwis were caught out by romance scams, costing them $7.9 million, in the first three months of last year alone.

Among those conned was a man in his 40s who sent $200,000 to someone he met on a dating site while a woman in her 50s lost $15,000 and was unwittingly used as a "mule" by receiving funds from another person caught up in the same scam.

And the Commission for Financial Capability's manager of fraud education, Bronwyn Groot, told the Herald those figures weren't surprising.

She said cases the Commission has dealt with recently include a woman in her 60s was contacted through Instagram by a man who complimented her appearance. It went from there, and over two months she lost $72,000. She was left feeling embarrassed, isolated from her family and heavily in debt.

And the Commission also dealt with a man in his 80s also met someone on a dating website, losing $40k over five months. He told the Commission that despite it not being a real person, it filled his "void of loneliness".

In February, Groot told the Herald about a farmer who was conned out of $1.2m.

The farmer, known only as "Mark", lost the family farm he inherited from his partents.

Groot said lonely Kiwis are often not talking to a person who cares for them, but various members of an organised crime ring.

New research from the BNZ has found that middle-aged Kiwis are the most likely to be targetted by scammmers.

The bank has launched a new "Scam Savvy" programme to help combat the trend.

Tips to avoid romance scams

• Never send money to someone you haven't met in person.

• If the person who approached you sends a photo of themselves, try putting it into the Google search bar to see if they've stolen it from someone else's identity (drag and drop a photo into the search bar to use Google's "reverse search" function).

• Show any documentation they send you to someone else and get their help to verify it.

• If you think you're being scammed, stop all contact. You might need to close or change your social media pages and replace the sim card in your phone.