Scammers worldwide are taking advantage of New Zealand’s relatively free Covid-19 status, trying to con people into buying fake event tickets.
Restrictions on social gathering sizes were lifted on June 8 after the country moved to alert level 1.
Since then, Kiwis have been able to return to live sports games, music gigs, comedy shows and other social events en masse.
However, it appears opportunistic scammers are targeting events nationwide, even the smallest of music gigs.
Consumer Protection, part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, has also noticed in recent months an increase in people accessing information online about how to identify scams or fraud.
“[Consumer Protection] are aware scammers are using Covid-19 to deceive people in communities across New Zealand,” national manager Mark Hollingsworth said.
Scammers have been emailing people pretending to be from the World Health Organisation, asking them to download malicious software onto their computers.
There have also been phone calls from fake health officials seeking personal information from people, asking them to make unusual payments.
Elsewhere, singer-songwriter Luke Buda says a gig his project band Teeth played at over the weekend had five scams attached to it.
Posing as people who had tickets to the gig but were unable to go, the scammers attempted to sell fake tickets.
The first scam was posted to the discussion page of the event within hours of it being made on Facebook.
“We don’t have sold out gigs, right, so it’s not like the demand was so great that people needed to be ticket scalping,” Buda told the Herald.
“Within hours, the first message popped up … it was really vague like, ‘Hi, I bought tickets and can’t go, DM me if you’re looking for tickets’.”
Suspicious of the post, Buda checked to see if anyone had actually bought tickets for the event – no one had.
Buda was surprised people would be fooled by the scammers and couldn’t believe someone would even go to the effort.
The small venue in Wellington could only house a couple hundred people and it was unlikely the gig was going to be a sell-out, Buda said.
“The strange thing is how many [scams] popped up to a small gig in a small bar venue, to a gig that wasn’t going to be sold out, from all over the world,” he said.
“It has a very parasitic kind of a feeling to it. It’s not human, right?
“It’s like, some event has popped up and some robot programme somewhere that checks all events that come up has immediately tried to scam people.”
Punters are able to identify a scam because they often start from scammers contacting people at random, Hollingsworth said.
Scammers also often used trusted brands or current events to deceive people into making dodgy payments or giving up personal information.
People should contact their bank and the police if they thought they had been conned by a scammer, Hollingsworth said.
In the past three years, Kiwis have lost nearly $60 million in scams, which were reported to non-profit online safety organisation Netsafe.
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