Minister Launches Scam Awareness Week 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Minister of Consumer Affairs John Boscawen today launched Scam Awareness Week 2011 – a joint annual initiative run by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, as part of an Australasian Consumer Fraud Taskforce (ACFT) campaign, and focused on raising awareness of scams in the community.

“According to research commissioned by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, New Zealanders greatly underestimate the cost of scams.  Of 1,000 people surveyed, 90 percent believed New Zealanders lose under $300 million a year – but the cost is closer to $450 million per year,” Mr Boscawen said.

“Added to this is the immense emotional cost to scam victims.  The Ministry’s Scamwatch website ( receives around 3,500 reports annually, including from people who have lost everything – their home, their savings, etc – by falling victim to a scam.

“The Ministry’s research also showed that most New Zealanders believe that scams originate in Africa in and Asia when, in fact, scammers can be based anywhere in the world – it’s incredibly easy for a scammer to set up a fake email address and then claim they are in London, or to phone and claim they’re in Sydney, when they’re actually somewhere else entirely.

“Recent scams that the Ministry has issued alerts on include rental property scams, computer cold-calling scams, tax back scams, and charity scams that arose in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake.  Anyone who comes across these, or other scams, is encouraged to report them to Scamwatch in order to help others avoid falling victim.

“Scammers rely, and prey, on human vulnerabilities and money sent overseas is virtually impossible to recover.  New Zealanders need to stay on their guard and remember the old message: if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” Mr Boscawen said.