The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) – Te Mana Tatai Hokohoko – is reminding New Zealanders to remain vigilant to investment scams as part of Fraud Awareness Week 2023.
Fraud Awareness Week 2023 runs from 13-18 November and this year’s focus is about encouraging consumers not to fall victim to investment scams. Nearly $200 million of New Zealanders money has been lost to scams in the last year, figures from the MBIE show.
There has been a significant rise in the number of investment scams targeting New Zealanders in recent years. Since 2020, the FMA has received more than 1300 complaints and issued 373 warnings about investment scams. Two common types of scams targeting New Zealanders lately are fake investment prospectuses and term deposit comparison sites. These scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and have caught out experienced investors. Also, of particular concern to the FMA is the increase in scams targeting New Zealand’s vulnerable communities and the advertising of fake investments on social media platforms.
As part of Fraud Awareness Week, the FMA has partnered with comedian Tom Sainsbury to illustrate what investment scams can look like.
FMA Director of Specialist Supervision and Response and Senior Responsible Officer for Scam Prevention and Co-ordination Peter Taylor says: “Scams and fraud are financial crimes that cause terrible harm to individuals. Preventing these crimes is vital to support confidence in our markets and financial services. This week is an important moment to raise awareness around the impacts of fraud and the ways to protect yourself. The FMA raised this issue to the top of our agenda this year and recently the heads of the Council of Financial Regulators agreed that FMA should take a lead role in developing a system wide response to this scourge. We are looking at ways to achieve greater coordination and cooperation around tackling these issues. We are also talking with industry groups on the same theme to encourage more coordination in the private sector with Government agencies.”
Red flags to watch for and ways to avoid being scammed include:
- Check the source to make sure it’s real. Make sure the company is based here, has a New Zealand phone number and the website url matches the company.
- Get a second opinion before handing over money. Press pause and think hard before handing over any money. Check with a trusted adviser, friend or family member – often all it takes is a fresh set of eyes to raise red flags you may not have considered.
- Real investments don’t come out of the blue. Banks and fund managers are licensed and regulated and do not generally call you out of the blue, offering a new opportunity that demands you immediately send them money.
- Check very carefully before sending any money or personal information to an investment opportunity, even if you think you’re investing with a legitimate or well-known financial institution. Do not trust links, emails or contact details supplied by callers. Check for yourself with the institution.
- Pay attention, listen to your bank if it raises questions or concerns about your payment requests or money transfers – they may have seen other customers lose money responding to the same opportunity.
- If you don’t understand it walk away.
The FMA has an abundance of resources on its website on how New Zealanders can protect themselves against investment scams, and a list of our public warnings. All warnings and alerts are posted to the FMA’s social media channels, along with regular scam education and information about keeping safe. You can also subscribe to the FMA’s regular email with alerts and warnings here. The FMA has also updated its webpage to make it easier to report a suspected scam which you can find here.
As a member of the Interagency Fraud Working Group, the FMA works alongside partner agencies such as MBIE, CERT NZ, Netsafe NZ, the Serious Fraud Office, Te Ara Ahunga Ora – Retirement Commission, DIA, Police and the Banking Ombudsman Service to inform consumers and businesses about scams in New Zealand.
The FMA is also working on achieving greater coordination and cooperation for tackling scams in the financial services sector through its work as co-chair of the Council of Financial Regulators alongside the RBNZ, Commerce Commission, Treasury and MBIE.