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Netsafe’s Re:scam chat-bot takes home anti-fraud award

An artificially intelligent chat-bot developed by Netsafe to occupy the time and resources of online scammers picked up the Anti-Fraud Award at the 2018 New Zealand Fraud Film Festival.

The award recognises a person, organisation or initiative that demonstrably distinguishes itself in the fight against fraud, as an example and a source of inspiration for others.

The Re:scam chat-bot was in action for just over a month between November and December 2017. It responded to scam e-mails, sending more than a million e-mails in reply, holding 70,000 never-ending conversations with scammers and wasting five years of scammers’ time. This diverted their attention from potential victims and helped to raise awareness of the issue in New Zealand and around the world.

Netsafe CEO Martin Coker said, “The Netsafe team are proud to receive the Anti-Fraud Award for the Re:scam initiative. Re:scam truly was a passion project for Netsafe and DDB New Zealand, and we’re both thrilled at the impact it’s made.

We think the huge global response to Re:scam is a reflection of how many people have been or know someone who has been affected by online scams and fraud. We would like to thank the NZ Fraud Film Festival team for shining a spotlight on such an important issue.”

Ian Tuke, Chair of the NZ Fraud Film Festival, said, “Re:scam captured the attention of the world and is a worthy winner of the Southern Hemisphere’s only anti-fraud award.”

Other nominees for the award include Transparency International and the Banking Ombudsman. The award was first won in 2016 by Bronwyn Groot for her work at BNZ in protecting the elderly from the risks of scams and frauds.

The 2018 NZ Fraud Film Festival was well attended by both industry on day one (Friday 2nd) and members of the public (Saturday 3rd) at the ASB Waterfront Theatre. Opened by the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, the festival featured a broad range of films from an Oscar nominated documentary on the prosecution of a tiny New York bank to a feature starring Robert de Niro as Bernie Madoff.

Festival Programme Director Steve Newall said, "It was great to see our range of films resonate with guests and serve as launching pads for robust discussions and audience questions afterwards. Screening the Oscar contender, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, was a highlight of the festival. Both this film and the eventual Oscar winner for best documentary feature Icarus are essential viewing for those taking an interest in fraud."

The NZ Fraud Film Festival aims to bring together the public and private sector to help tackle fraud and inform the public about how fraud can be prevented. There have now been two festivals, the first in 2016 and this year’s event.

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