Cyber security experts CERT NZ says Kiwis being 'brought to their knees' by scams

The Government agency in charge of cyber security says some New Zealanders are being brought to their knees by scams. 

It's seen a massive upswing in the amount of money we're losing: Nearly $6 million in the first three months of this year.  

Another day, another text saying you need to pay your road toll. But it's not the transport agency, it's a scammer trying to trick you out of cash.  

CERT New Zealand director Rob Pope told Newshub it's happening "consistently and constantly".

"We're seeing these crime groups pivoting from campaign to campaign."

Text scams are the most common.  

One looks like the Inland Revenue and promises a tax refund. It links to a realistic-looking website asking you to verify your card number, which is then used to steal your money. 

The problem is escalating. Reported incidents are up 12 percent in the first three months of this year, compared to the previous three.

The amount of money Kiwis have actually lost is up 66 percent, almost $6 million that we know of, straight into the pockets of scammers.

"We've seen businesses go insolvent. And a lot of people who have been struggling to survive in these very tight economic times are being essentially brought to their knees," Pope told Newshub. 

The higher value losses are thanks to a second type of scam gaining traction - bogus investment companies. 

Channel 7's Spotlight recently busted one such operation involving smooth-talking British men living in Kuala Lumpur. 

"You could see fake members of staff with images, you could see fake products, fake reviews, fake testimonials. Any of these things can be done plausibly and realistically to make people believe the product they've got in front of them right now is real," Netsafe chief safety officer Sean Lyon told Newshub.

The Government's computer emergency response team wants Kiwis to be less trusting. 

It recommends you check the company's office website before signing up for a deal to make sure they're registered, and double check the spelling, because they say 85 percent of scams are preventable.

And if you do fall victim, reporting it can sometimes help you recover stolen cash.