Online scams have cost New Zealanders tens of millions of dollars in the last few years but a new education awareness campaign is hoping to help Kiwis protect themselves from becoming victims.
The Aotearoa-designed 'Society of Con Artists And Manipulators (SCAM) Gallery' campaign is a partnership between Facebook, Netsafe, New Zealand Police and CERT NZ.
The website profiles six common online scams with details about how each scam is carried out and what can be done to avoid it, all provided by curator 'Sam the Scamologist'.
The six scams discussed in detail are:
- Online shopping
- Prizes and promotions
"Over the past 18 months, New Zealanders have been spending more time online to connect with family and friends, run their business and seek entertainment. We want to do more to help our community spot these popular scams," Nick McDonell, Facebook's head of public policy for New Zealand and the Pacific Islands said.
"We hope SCAM Gallery will equip our online community with the knowledge to identify and avoid some of the most common scams before they cause real emotional and financial harm."
The Financial Intelligence Unit within the New Zealand Police estimate $55 million in reported scam transactions over the last 12 months, with the average amount per scam around $8000.
Greg Dalziel, officer in charge of the Cybercrime Unit at NZ Police said it was concerning to see scams becoming more sophisticated over time.
"We know education plays an important role in keeping people safe online and we welcome Facebook's efforts to help educate Kiwis so they can learn more about how to spot a scam and protect themselves," he said.
"If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
That was certainly true in August when Dyson Cyclone V11 vacuum cleaners were being offered on Facebook for just $3 each.
Every model in the range costs more than $1100 each, according to pricespy.co.nz.
Most recently a text messaging scam was causing malware infections in New Zealand-based Android mobile phones.
Users would get a message regarding a parcel delivery or photographs of them appearing online, which would direct them to install FluBot malware software.
Once installed, it used the infected phone to spread further and had the potential to result in "significant financial loss", according to CERT NZ.
"The application attempts to steal your banking and credit card information as well your contact list, which it uploads to a server to continue spreading itself," the Government's cyber security agency said.
CERT NZ director Rob Pope said scams and phishing attempts make up most of the cyber security incidents reported to the government agency, but keeping safe doesn't have to be complicated.
"The majority of these can be prevented with simple steps such as two-factor authentication and long, strong passwords," he said.
Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker said reports to his organisation reflected only a small percentage of the total money Kiwis lost each year and it was time to move beyond 'common sense' as an approach to dealing with scams.
"With online scams becoming increasingly sophisticated, more awareness is needed, which is why we're glad to be part of such an important campaign designed to help the community stay safe," he said.