The Department of Internal Affairs is warning people to beware of rugby World Cup scams in the lead up to the tournament.

Its anti-spam compliance unit warened that online criminals would take advantage of the upcoming tournament and was asking people to be vigilant when opening emails or text messages relating to the rugby World Cup.

Senior investigator Toni Demetriou said major international tournaments were attractive to e-criminals.

"There have already been email claims that the recipient has won a million dollars in a lottery promotion operated by the governing body of the 2011 Rugby World Cup,'' Mr Demetriou said.

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The claim was false and designed to designed to fool recipients to give up money and personal information.

Spammers and scammers would take advantage of corporate branding and official sponsorship linked to the event to make there correspondence appear legitimate, he said.

The public needed to be vigilant when opening emails if they were not sure of the source.

"Something as simple as opening the email and clicking on a hyperlink in the body of the message can be enough to cause damage to your computer or handheld device.

People should also be aware of the possibility of ticket scams and only purchase tickets for the tournament through official sales channels.

- NZPA