New Zealanders' growing retirement savings are a prime target for fraudsters, says the head of New Zealand's fraud protection agency.

Julie Read, director of the Serious Fraud office, says fraud goes where the money is and recently New Zealanders have invested a lot in retirement schemes.

New Zealanders have more than $50 billion in KiwiSaver which was only launched in 2007.

"Retirement funds will be prime targets for fraudsters as they have been elsewhere in the world," Read said.


More than 2.8 million Kiwis belong to the retirement savings scheme.

Read said the risks may be amplified because many investors were relatively unsophisticated and that made them vulnerable.

"The Serious Fraud Office is looking at opportunities to prevent these sorts of frauds and others, so to be a fence at the top of the cliff rather than an ambulance at the bottom.

"New Zealanders need to be vigilant about investing their money with reputable funds."

Brownyn Groot, fraud education officer at the Commission for Financial Capability, said all KiwiSaver members needed to be vigilant not just those who were able to take their money out at age 65.

"I think they should know where their money is invested and who it is invested with."

Groot said people should be wary of someone setting up a new KiwiSaver scheme and targetting transfers.

"They need to do that due diligence and make sure the company is licensed for New Zealand and understand who is managing their money."


People can check if a provider is licensed on the financial service providers register

Groot said those taking their money out at 65 were more at risk.

"You don't know how much financial literacy they have had. All of a sudden they are coming into this huge amount of money."

She said some could be tricked into putting into an investment that was fraudulent.

"The fraudsters are really good at what they do - they talk the talk."

Groot urged people not to rush into anything with their money.

"Make sure you get independent advice and fully understand what they are getting themselves into. Don't just trust a website."