Podcast: Two Cents' Worth

Scam Scum: We’re All Victims

Scammers are posing as law enforcement, including the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), to dupe New Zealanders and circumvent banks safety systems.  

ANZ head of financial crime Paula Milne said scammers were constantly conjuring up new methods to make people distrust banks. 

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"Some of them are actually posing as the CIA and almost extorting them [New Zealanders], saying 'we have identified that you have been part of a child sex exploitation site, but if you give us this money we will take you off the investigation'. 

"And they [victims] panic and they pay it just to make it go away." 

ANZ had about 50 scam and fraud detection staff who blocked transactions daily, Milne said.  

She said scammers had begun coaching victims on ways to slip through banks safety measures, making detection more difficult.  

"They teach them how to go into the bank and what to say. [Victims are told] 'You cannot trust the banks, they are in collusion with these hackers'. 

Paula Milne Photo: Supplied

"How do we combat it? We need to keep being aware of what is happening." 

She said there needed to be tougher regulation on banks, because they did not currently share information about scammers and fraudsters.  

"We kind of end up with a whack-a-mole situation where they pop up somewhere else." 

Messy approach needs tidy-up

Netsafe statistics showed New Zealanders lost $33 million to scams last year, but the amount was expected to be much larger because many victims were too embarrassed to report their losses. 

Netsafe chief executive Martin Cocker said he was frustrated at the fragmented approach New Zealand had to preventing scams. 

"Nobody has a definitive mandate to address scams. It really runs across a lot of portfolios but does not necessarily belong entirely in any one," he said.  

"There is the Commission for Financial Capability, you have got the Serious Fraud Office, Consumer Protection [within] MBIE, ourselves, all of the banks with an interest, telcos have got an interest. Any law enforcement agency, the police." 

Cocker called for a single scam reporting agency.  

Commission for Financial Capability fraud education manager Bronwyn Groot agreed.  

"We definitely need a centralised reporting hub. I get a lot of referrals from other agencies, they have taken the report but then they cannot help the victim." 

Groot was the only scam victim support person in the country. "We need more of me," she said.  

Milne said victim support was a gap that needed filling.  

"There is not enough of Bronwyn to go around." 

About Two Cents' Worth

Two Cents' Worth has been launched by Newsroom in a co-production with RNZ. It is the country's first weekly business podcast and will be broadcast just after the midday news on Sundays on RNZ National, will be available on both RNZ and Newsroom's websites and can also be found on iTunes and other podcast apps.

Each week we will examine one issue in depth and then convene a panel discussion. Here is this week's version on RNZ as well. 

Two Cents' Worth - the business week and the business outlook. 

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