Kiwis lose $5 million to scammers in just three months

The average loss was $6467.22.
The average loss was $6467.22. Photo credit: Getty Images

Online safety organisation Netsafe says New Zealanders have lost more than $5 million to scammers in the last three months - and it's showing no sign of slowing.

According to Nesafe's quarterly report, the last financial quarter saw an almost 25 percent decrease in scam reports overall - but the Kiwis who were scammed got scammed hard, with a 21.3 percent increase in the amount lost.

The average loss was $6467.22.

The most reported category of scams was relationship and trust fraud followed by consumer investment fraud. The average loss for a romance scam was $28,752.32.

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker says he knows there are more victims out there.

"We know the number of losses reported to Netsafe represent only a fraction of the money lost. Sometimes people can be embarrassed to seek help, or they simply don't know where to go for support which can add to the harm they experience."

As well as losing more money, New Zealanders are reporting more online harm including bullying, abuse and objectionable content.

From January to March 2021, it received 5295 reports about a variety of online harm incidents.

Cocker says the "significant" 21.9 percent increase reinforces the upticking trend which began in lockdown - and it's the highest levels seen in Netsafe's 20-year-long history.

Cocker says anyone who feels like they are being harassed online or scammed should feel safe to approach Netsafe for help with the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

"People are often distressed when they come to Netsafe, and we are here to help minimise that and explain how the law may apply to their situation."

The Harmful Digital Communications Act makes it illegal to send or publish threatening, offensive or sensitive material or spread damaging rumours. Individuals can be punished by up to two years in prison or a maximum fine of $50,000.