Fraudsters are capitalising on the heightened concerns about coronavirus by setting up a scam website purporting to sell face masks, a local alert page is warning.

And Consumer Protection says scams often tap into topical events to take advantage of consumers.

The NZ Scam Alert Facebook page has alerted its followers about one website selling face masks, known to be in short supply, which has very limited information about the company.

The site, NZ Masks, is also not a registered company in New Zealand according to Companies Office records.


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The NZ Scam Alert Facebook page, run by a private individual, issued an alert about the websites which have appeared following the "unprecedented demand" for face masks.

Watch out for dodgy websites selling face masks.
Watch out for dodgy websites selling face masks.

"A lot of these websites are very vague in terms of shipping, contact details and information about the company or products.

"Please stay away from such websites or pages.

"Not only can these pages be fake but also if you do receive face masks from these websites you cannot be guaranteed of the quality of their products."

It said the website NZ Masks - run by the global dropshipping and online retail platform Shopify - was an example of the scams.

Watch out: agencies are warning NZ Masks is a scam.
Watch out: agencies are warning NZ Masks is a scam.

That online store has six different mask options for sale and claims three of those are sold out.

NZ Scam Alert said the website had very few details about the products or the company itself and didn't have the legal requirements of terms and conditions on their website.


"It appears to be targeting New Zealand customers."

It warned against using the sites and urged people to instead use a genuine supplier, like a pharmacy.

Mark Hollingsworth, manager of Consumer Protection, said they'd not had any specific reports regarding a face mask scam in New Zealand, although a similar scam has been reported other countries.

"Scams are often anchored in tapping into topical events to take advantage of consumers," Hollingsworth said.

Last week, four people were arrested in Singapore for their suspected involvement in separate online face mask scams.

The scams took plan on various e-commerce platforms such as Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, Carousell, WhatsApp and Telegram, according to Channel News Asia.


After customers bought masks and paid via a bank transfer, the sellers became uncontactable.

One of the accused is a 24-year-old woman who's believed to have been involved in about 40 cases totalling more than $12,400.