Warning to New Zealanders over 'Hi Mum' scam

A woman who was close to handing over her personal details to a scammer is warning about the 'Hi Mum' scam.

The scammer poses as a loved one in a message and asks for money. Hundreds of Kiwis were scammed last year, losing tens of millions of dollars.

When she got a text out of the blue, Shelley Lock was heartened her daughter who she hadn't spoken to for three years was reaching out.

"It said, 'I love you mum and I'm stressed', and I sent one back saying, 'I love you too, mum's here'," Lock said.

"I thought for her to say that she was stressed and to contact me, something is really not good here."

But when she received another text saying her daughter was at the mall closest to Lock's home and needed money for a phone, the penny dropped. Because there is no mall anywhere near her home. It was a scam.

"That one in a million - could she have run away and could she be in the South Island? So I was still doubting myself," Lock said.

The 'Hi Mum' scam has been doing the rounds recently.

"It sends a message from a loved one, often a child, can be a brother or a cousin, saying they're in trouble, the phone is broken, they need money," said Netsafe chief online safety officer Sean Lyons.

This particular scam has been around for a while and can get nasty.

"I'm in trouble with a drug debt, someone's after me, I'm going to get hurt, I'm going to get stabbed," Lyons said.

Netsafe said the best defence is deleting the message.

"Taking a deep breath, not being sucked into the story. If you like finding some way to check out what's going on," Lyons said.

Lock knows. She's fallen victim to scams twice before.

"Speak up, go to the police and actually get this person done," she said.

Cert NZ figures showed a record spike in money lost to scams last year - with nearly $9 million being taken in the third quarter alone.