Financial losses from cyber crimes rose 66 percent in the first three months of the year over the previous quarter, amounting to nearly $6 million in losses.
CERT NZ (Computer Emergency Response Team) said scammers were using a number of new tactics to rob people of investments, as well as scams involving romance and an increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI).
It said the number of scams was trending higher, with a 23 percent increase from the last three months of 2022 (Q4 2022), as criminals used search engine ads and professional-looking documentation to scam New Zealanders looking to invest money.
A scam campaign in February cost New Zealanders millions of dollars in a very short time, which demonstrated how quickly someone could lose their assets.
CERT NZ director Rob Pope said everyone needed to be more aware online.
“In general, the key is to always be vigilant. Take your time when you see investment opportunities online, verify exactly who you’re talking to, don’t give away your personal information and keep yourself secure online.”
He said people needed to question the promise of over-the-top investment returns, triple-check every company before investing in them, and not reply to investment opportunities that arrive via WhatsApp or other message platforms.
“The cyber security world is taking notice of how scammers are using AI tools,” Pope said.
“AI can be used to write more convincing phishing emails in various languages, to create malicious code, and to even impersonate people in live chats.”
Pope said it was important for people to report scams to CERT as the intelligence gathered could be used to warn others about emerging risks.
“The more we hear about these things, the more advice, the more assistance that we can actually give.
“Nobody wants to lose money. Nobody wants to be psychologically harmed through a romance scam and nobody wants their data and a whole lot of personal details circulating in unauthorised hands.”
Listen to The Detail’s report on scams falling through regulatory cracks