Millions lost to dating scams

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 14:15 25/02/2013
dating scam table

Kiwis lost millions to dating scam fraud last yaer.

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Lovesick Kiwis are an increasingly easy mark, with dating scams costing people more than $2 million last year.

Overall, New Zealanders were cheated out of nearly $4m dollars in 2012 but more than half of that was lost through romance scams.

Dating scam fraud rose, with $2.2m lost last year compared to $900,000 in 2011, according to data from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Netsafe Operations Manager Lee Chisolm said fraudsters targeted vulnerable people online, befriended them, then claimed to urgently need money for an emergency.

"These scams can see the victims emotionally devastated and lose their life's savings," Chisolm said.

"Three people lost over $100,000 each last year."

MBIE said that in total, more than 700 people lost money last year to scams in general, each losing on average almost $5500.

There were 4000 reports of scams, with a combined $3.97m lost.

Spokesman for the ministry Jarrod Rendle said reported losses rose by more than $1.7m between 2011 and 2012, despite about 1000 fewer scams being reported.

"Losses to investment-related scams such as 'boiler room fraud' [involving calls offering investments] rose by 77 per cent last year," he said.

"People that fall prey to investment scams can lose very large sums of money - with three people losing more than $150,000 each."

One class of scam that did decline were losses to scams that trick people into thinking that they have a virus on their computer, which dropped by 67 per cent.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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