Scams rampant as lockdown sends NZers online

BNZ encourages NZers to get Scam Savvy as consumers demand organisations increase protections

New research from Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) shows scams continue to run rampant in New Zealand, with nearly four out of five New Zealanders being targeted by a scam and nearly a quarter falling victim to one.

The research also reveals that one in five New Zealanders believe organisations aren’t doing enough to keep their personal information safe. It comes as BNZ launches its annual Scam Savvy Week during lockdown, running from Monday 30 August to Friday 3 September.

BNZ Head of Financial Crime, Ashley Kai Fong, says, “With Aotearoa back into lockdown more people are online – shopping, communicating, and keeping busy. But that comes with an increased risk of falling victim to the rising tide of scams and we all need to remain vigilant and get clued up on how to recognise and avoid scams.

“The best defence against scams is you. Knowing what to look for and what to do if you fall victim to a scam is one of the best ways to keep these criminals at bay.

“Launching Scam Savvy Week during lockdown is a no brainer. New Zealanders are online and on their phones and we want them to have access to the tools and resources at that will help them stay safe,” says Kai Fong.

Lockdown lessons

Kai Fong is warning New Zealanders to be on the lookout for scams that exploit lockdowns and the pandemic.

“Lockdowns create a unique opportunity for scammers. They’re not only mimicking missed online deliveries but also offering expedited COVID tests and vaccinations for a fee. These are a depraved and hideous scam that prey on people’s uncertainty, worry, and heightened stress levels.

“Remember, there is no cost to get a jab or a test. They are free and always will be. If you receive an email like this, report it to CERT NZ and if you’re unsure if its legitimate or not, ring Healthline on 0800 358 5453,” says Kai Fong.

More languages to help more people

BNZ’s Scam Savvy tools this year are available in four languages – English, Te Reo Māori, Samoan and Tongan.

BNZ has also produced presentations for community groups to use and help their members get scam savvy too. They are available in eight languages, English, Te Reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Mandarin, Korean, Hindi and Punjabi. These are available at

Kai Fong says scammers are constantly trying new ways to con people into parting with their money and are targeting ethnic communities such as a recent “gifting scam” aimed at New Zealand’s Tongan community that was in effect a pyramid scheme.

“New Zealand’s ethnic communities are incredibly tightknit with strong family and religious bonds. Scammers leverage this to try and hook more people in through these networks,” he says.

Kai Fong says this year in particular has also seen a rise in the use of crypto currencies in get rich quick scams too.

“Criminals are pouring huge levels of investment and organisation into scamming. Every day they are getting more sophisticated and successful, but the best line of defence remains the individual.

“Scam Savvy helps people spot a scam and know when to hang-up, not reply or tell a family member, friend, the police or their bank.

“Even if someone falls victim to a scam the sooner we, or the police, are told about it, the more we can do to get their money back and protect them from further harm,” says Kai Fong.

Warning to businesses and organisations as concern grows

In a stark warning to businesses, the rising tide of scams is affecting New Zealanders’ confidence in the companies and organisations they use.

“Our research shows that one in five New Zealanders is not confident companies and organisations are doing enough to keep personal data safe and secure. Concern about personal data in general also continues to grow with 54% of people more concerned about it than last year.

“This comes off the back of some very high-profile data leaks, such as the ransomware attack on the Waikato DHB, and the attack on server monitoring software Kaseya which small organisations, companies, and schools use to manage their systems.

“Businesses are generally doing a good job of protecting data, but our research is a good reminder to organisations of all sizes that we all need to work hard to honour the trust our customers put in us to protect their data,” he says.

Scam Savvy Research

Other key findings from BNZ’s Scam Savvy research included:

  • Some of the top scams targeting New Zealanders:
    • Remote access scam (35%)
    • Scams masquerading as government services or departments 20%
    • Inheritance scam 20%
    • Crypto investments scams – 16%
  • Invoice scams continue to target businesses, generating most losses by value
  • The average amount of money lost to a scam was $1638
  • One in ten people (11%) surveyed are hesitant going online for fear of being scammed
  • 83% of people said they would report being scammed to either Netsafe (38%), Cert NZ (9%), their bank (60%), the Police (55%), but in reality, only half (52%) of those surveyed who were scammed reported it, and only 29% reported it to their bank.
  • Nearly a third of people under the age of 44 have been targeted by a crypto scam.
  • Phishing emails still one of the main tactics used by scammers to defraud people

Tools to help protect New Zealanders from scams can be found at


Please click here for a scam case studies

Please click here for a photo of BNZ Head of Financial Crime, Ashley Kai Fong