The FMA has warned of social media scams, romance-investing hybrids and impostor websites exploiting the Covid-19 crisis. Photo / 123rf

The Kiwis are warned to be on the lookout for a growing “trio of treacherous scams” during the global pandemic.

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) issued the warning today after an increase in complaints of investment scams and fraud filed with the regulator in the first half of this year.

The market watchdog urged people to be vigilant of social media scams, romantic investment hybrids and impostor websites exploiting the Covid-19 crisis and the economic climate.

From January to June 2021, the FMA received 158 complaints of counter-investment and fraud, an increase of 79% from the 88 complaints received during the same period in 2020, when the pandemic began.

It is also up 49% from the 106 complaints in the first half of 2019.

The FMA issued 36 public warnings regarding suspected scams and other non-compliant entities from January to June 2021 – up 29% from the 28 warnings issued during the same period in 2020, and up 80% from the 20 issued in the first half of 2019.

The FMA said it has seen an increase in the number of scammers using social media platforms to identify and contact possible victims. This often involves making friends and messages, asking questions or making suggestions in posted comments, and conducting fake polls.

Hybrid romance-investment scams were also targeting potential victims on popular dating apps, gaining the trust of people with sophisticated histories and accomplices.

The victims were then convinced to transfer money abroad to buy supposed investments.

Impostor websites, on the other hand, use names, logos, addresses, certifications and other details of legitimate New Zealand companies to trick investors into parting with their money.

Two recent examples included crooks posing as kiwifruit firm Zespri and derivatives issuer Rockfort Markets.

FMA General Counsel Liam Mason said crooks are profiting from the pandemic crisis either by using Covid-19 as part of their pitch or by using the economic climate to tackle the fears and desires of people.

“Scammers are constantly looking to evolve their approach and this treacherous trio of scams can be sophisticated, red flags aren’t always obvious. Scammers want to be believed and are willing to play the long game to gain your trust on it. several months, ”he said. noted.

“We strongly encourage New Zealanders to only deal with locally registered entities and if you see an investment opportunity, take a step back and ask yourself if this is real. Don’t rush, be skeptical and ask a lot. of questions. “

Mason said some of the signs of a scam included little or no written information, asking for payments through unusual platforms, continually asking for money, and exerting pressure.

You can find more information on how to spot investment scams on the FMA website.

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This notice was published: 2021-09-14 23:37:06


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