Over-55s losing millions to financial scammers - Govt

Nearly 90 percent of the money stolen from New Zealanders in online scams during the first quarter of 2018 was from those aged 55 and older.

The Government's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) has recorded $3 million in financial losses during that period - but the number is likely far higher.

"International experience suggests that it's the tip of the iceberg - we are talking about billions of dollars in global losses, and I don't think New Zealand is any different to that proportionally," said CERT director Rob Pope.

CERT relies on self-reporting for its figures, and Netsafe believes the amount of money being netted in scams is in fact far higher.

"Each year over the last five years, we've had about $10 million worth of losses reported to Netsafe, [which] is pretty consistent with these kinds of numbers," said CEO Martin Cocker.

"But we do know there are lots and lots of people who fall for scams who don't report those losses."

The most common type of scam to hit Kiwis for January to March was phishing - where criminals harvest people's information.

It's those sorts of cyber frauds which Mr Pope says are netting the big bucks.

"We're going from relatively low value financial losses to, in this quarter for example, nine incidents of reported financial losses of $100,000 or more - and in one instance, over $500,000," he said.

But scammers aren't just after money.

"Data loss is a significant attractor for a lot of the groups that are looking to use that to create much much bigger, more global situations," Mr Pope said.

Organisations also fell prey to scammers over the first three months of 2017, reporting a quarter of all financial losses.

CERT expects figures to keep climbing in future reports, as more people feel confident revealing that they've been had.