Department of Internal Affairs issues warning to scammers as it investigates local swindlers

There are cases where Kiwis have lost their entire life savings to the phishing scam, with some losing upwards of $10,000.
There are cases where Kiwis have lost their entire life savings to the phishing scam, with some losing upwards of $10,000. Photo credit: Getty Images

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has issued a warning to phishing scammers to "stop what you're doing and hand yourself in" as scam victims lose their entire life savings.

The DIA says a phishing scam 'NZTA toll' has been circulating through Aotearoa since late 2022 and presents as a genuine text message from legitimate organisations like Waka Kotahi, NZ Post, Inland Revenue and a number of New Zealand-based banks.

DIA says scammers should know it's working closely with mobile network providers, Aotearoa banks, Police and CERT NZ to investigate the scam and stop scammers in their tracks.

Deputy director of operations at DIA John Michael said there are cases where Kiwis have lost their entire life savings to the phishing scam.

"We want to be clear to the scammers that by sending scam SMS messages, you are targeting fellow New Zealanders. This has to stop."

Michael urged those who are committing the crime and sending scam messages to "please step forward" and contact DIA at

"Failure to do so will result in us pursuing our investigations, and if you are found guilty of sending scam messages, you could be fined up to $200,000."

Michael said the DIA is working closely with Aotearoa mobile network operators and Police, and are aware of scam technology operating in towns and cities across Aotearoa.

"We are confident in our ability to identify the users of this technology."

Advice for the public for dealing with scams 

  • Remember - not all messages will look the same, as scammers change their wording over time.
  • Do not engage with or click any links before you know a message is genuine.
  • To check if a message is genuine, check directly with the people it came from. Go to the organisation's website or check your online account directly.
  • Scam messages commonly contain bad or irregular spelling and grammar. Use this as your first sign that this could be a scam.
  • Never provide any card or personal details if you do click a bad link.
  • If you have paid money already, speak to your bank as soon as possible and let them know what's happened.
  • It can be harder for people that don't frequently use their phone to recognise a scam, such as the elderly or vulnerable. Check in with your whānau to help them learn how to avoid falling victim to an SMS scam. 
  • Head to this website for a step-by-step guide of how to report spam: How to report SMS spam

Michael urged anyone with information relating to the people responsible, to contact DIA at Alternatively, information can be provided anonymously to Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

He added anyone who thinks they are a victim of the phishing scam should contact police on 105 and quote Operation Lime Green.

The scam text can also be forwarded free of charge to 7726.