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New Zealanders more than $750,000 from online incidents

Auckland, 12 August 2011

New Zealanders more than $750,000 from online incidents

NetSafe, New Zealand’s internet safety and security organisation, is marking the first anniversary of their ‘Online Reporting Button’ website ( this week.

The site received almost 1700 reports of online incidents during the first 12 months of operation with financial losses mounting up to more than three quarters of a million dollars.

The site is run in partnership with the Police, Customs Service, Commerce Commission, Department of Internal Affairs and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. But NetSafe has seen most activity connected with internet scams and frauds which is overseen by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and their Scamwatch programme.

“More than 60% of cases reported to us have been classic online scams,” said Martin Cocker, NetSafe’s Executive Director. “Over half the money reported lost was by individuals falling prey to phishing attacks, advanced fee fraud and romance scams.”

Over the course of the last year the not-for-profit has been able to use the website as an effective early warning system as new scams are reported in waves by people from all over New Zealand.

“Looking at the data involved, we’ve seen the most reports submitted by people living in the urban centres of Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington,” said Cocker. “But there have been incidents reported by people in every part of the country, particularly with cold calling computer experts looking to gain access to your PC.”

“As a result of this intelligence we’ve able to produce specific consumer advice, proactively warn people of the issues and also work with our law enforcement and government partners to try and get scammers shut down.”

Lowlights of the year

NetSafe’s analysis of the Orb reports shows patterns in the type of incidents reported:

- During the last 4 months of 2010 the main issues were advanced fee frauds targeting car sellers and rental scams affecting landlords and tenants. - Later there was a rise in people reporting cold calling computer support companies which continued on into 2011. - The next most common incidents reported were hacked email accounts being used to send spam and to request emergency funds from friends; phishing attacks on people using online banking plus fake IRD and bank fee refund offers. - The largest individual losses reported were romance scams that may have taken many months to perpetrate. - The infographic on the NetSafe Blog details some further key statistics. A larger version of this image (3.2MB) is made available for media use and can be downloaded from

Report incidents and help others

NetSafe believes the incident reports made to the Orb are just tip of the iceberg when it comes to online scams.

Martin Cocker said “A Statistics New Zealand survey from 2009 put the number of individual victims of internet fraud at 56,000 – that would suggest that current reporting represents only a fraction of overall incidents.”

The Orb site lets you report incidents anonymously – almost one in four last year were made this way – and NetSafe is keen for people affected to submit their experiences so that it, and its partner organisations, can use the information to improve cyber safety and security programmes.

“The New Zealand government has recently released its cyber security strategy and that includes equipping individuals and small businesses with the skills to protect themselves” said Cocker. “The more people tell us about the problem via the Orb, the better we can work to help others stay safe online.”

Help and advice from NetSafe

You can report your concerns about online incidents in one central location at NetSafe will direct your report through to the partner best able to investigate or advise you.

Visit and find out how you can keep your computer secure and avoid the latest online challenges.

- ENDS -

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