A New Zealand man watched powerlessly as a computer hacker remotely accessed his PC and started draining his PayPal account with online purchases.
Hamilton man Girish Kuruvilla woke at 3am to the sound of his mobile phone vibrating incessantly, and thinking it might be a family emergency from his native India he went to take the phone call.
Instead, the screen of his smartphone was flooded with emails confirming purchases made from his PayPal account that was linked to his ANZ credit card.
Mr Kuruvilla said the March 4 cyber attack was frightening.
He said his computer screen was lit up and he could see the mouse moving and purchasing nearly $3000 worth of expensive computer parts and perfumes that were being shipped to the same mailing address in Israel.
"It was scary, I was literally watching my money disappear before my eyes."
Despite his attempts to lock the hacker out of his computer with virus protection, the person kept getting back through so Mr Kuruvilla phoned PayPal and ANZ to close his account and credit card.
"In my Pay Pal account I had about $3000 but it was connected to my credit card with a $17,000 limit and he was just going for it - just shopping and shopping."
PayPal refunded Mr Kuruvilla's stolen funds and his credit card remained untouched so he did not report it to police.
However, he hoped by sharing his experience it would open other New Zealanders' eyes to cyber threats.
NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker said Mr Kuruvilla's attack was rare.
"Something as specific as this is not super common. For someone to remotely take over a computer there is a number of steps the criminal has to successfully go through which is relatively difficult so you don't hear about that every day, but the risk is there every day."
Mr Crocker said that cyber crimes, especially those that targeted finances, were increasing with the prevalence of technology.
The last recorded Statistics New Zealand data on the subject showed that 4 per cent of Kiwi internet users had suffered losses - whether financial or emotional - from internet threats, up from 2 per cent in 2011.
Be safe online
• Make secure passwords and keep them secret.
• Ensure software and virus protection is up to date.
• Report security threats to NetSafe or, if serious, to police.
• Do not provide any personal or banking information via email.
• Only input personal or bank info into a website you know is genuine.