Thousands of New Zealanders stay silent on scams

New research from Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) shows that:

  • 15% of Kiwis who lose money to scams suffer in silence and tell no one
  • more than half of Kiwis (58%) who fall victim to scams do not report the crime
  • 13% of New Zealanders are hesitant to go online due to their fear of being scammed
  • 35 – 44 year olds are prime targets for scams.

The new research, commissioned by BNZ and my2cents1, shows the effect the deluge of scams is having on New Zealanders.

Ashley Kai Fong, Head of Financial Crime, says, “there’s a tidal wave of scams hitting New Zealanders. Scammers are taking advantage of good people and Kiwis are drowning and not putting their hand up for help.”

“It’s worrying that the fear of being scammed is stopping New Zealanders going online. Cutting yourself off from the digital world can do more harm than good as we know being connected to family and friends is important to people’s overall wellbeing.”

“This week BNZ is focused on helping New Zealanders be safer online by helping them spot scams and learn how to recognise the telltale giveaways through our Scam Savvy tools. We want New Zealanders armed with the tools they need to avoid being scammed so the internet feels like a safe space,” says Kai Fong.

Beware the busy parent: 35 – 44 year olds squarely in scammers’ sights

New Zealanders think the elderly are most vulnerable to scammers, but BNZ’s research showed that busy parents in the 35 – 44 year old range are just as likely to have lost money to a scam as the elderly. 

“Scammers are increasingly sophisticated and manipulative. They prey on our desire for convenience, the time-poor and those whose attention is pulled in several directions. Scammers are selling fake tickets and subscriptions, giving away grants and prizes, mimicking the taxman and invoicing departments of businesses we use for products and services. In some instances they are even imitating colleagues and friends,” commented Kai Fong.

The BNZ research found that 35 – 44 year olds were specifically at risk of losing money when buying, selling or donating goods or services online and inheritance scams, and of the 81% of Kiwis that had been the target of a scam.

Top five scams

  1. Fake lottery, prize or grant scam
  2. Tech scam phone calls (no computer access)
  3. Nigerian letter fraud
  4. Scams masquerading as government services or departments
  5. Inheritance scam

“Scammers look and feel like the organisations many of us interact with each day, but there are tell-tale giveaways that we want all Kiwis to be wise to” said Kai Fong. “I encourage everyone to get along to a BNZ Scam Savvy session or find it online and get clued-up so they don’t become scam victims,” he went on to say.

How to get Scam Savvy

This week BNZ is hosting Scam Savvy sessions in its branches and Partner Centres. BNZ staff will also be operating Scam Savvy Schools in malls and local communities to guide people through the types of scams that typically target New Zealanders, and show them what to look for and what to do if they are scammed.

Kai Fong advises that you don’t need to be a BNZ customer to take part. Anyone can attend a Scam Savvy session by contacting their local BNZ branch or visiting malls in the main centres between 9am – 5pm over the course of the week.

Malls where Scam Savvy sessions will be held

  • Auckland: Albany Westfield, Manukau Westfield, St Lukes Westfield, Sylvia Park
  • Hamilton: Chartwell Westfield
  • Wellington: Queensgate Mall, Johnsonville Mall, North City Plaza
  • Christchurch: Riccarton Westfield

BNZ’s Scam Savvy tools can also be found at

1The research was conducted with my2cents (Camorra Research), a financial services online panel. The sample of n = 800 is weighted to be nationally representative in terms of age, gender and region.