CFFC supports call for central scam agency

The fraud education arm of the Commission for Financial Capability supports the call for a centralised agency to combat the rapid rise in scams.

CFFC Fraud Education Manager Bronwyn Groot says New Zealanders need a one stop shop where they can report scams and receive help and support.

“The system is fractured with a number of agencies covering different types of fraud and few providing support for victims,” says Groot, who works one on one with victims of all types of scams. “A central point could provide a rapid response to reports to stop money going overseas, help enforcement to track offenders, and provide a wrap-around recovery plan for victims and their families.”

Netsafe CEO Martin Cocker called for a central agency in the release of his organisation’s latest figures, which show New Zealanders lost $33 million to online scams and fraud last year, triple the amount stolen in 2017.

Groot agrees with Cocker that these figures represent the tip of the iceberg, as many scams go unreported due to victims feeling embarrassed, and also confused about where they can lodge a report and being disillusioned at the point of reporting.

“Fraud is not just about financial loss,” says Groot. “It takes a long-lasting emotional toll that affects their psychological wellbeing. Victims need somewhere to go where they feel safe and confident that they will be supported and action will be taken to investigate the fraud they’ve been subjected to.”

Groot says the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is an example of the kind of agency New Zealand needs; it investigates fraud, provides analysis, shares information with other agencies in that country and overseas, issues scam alerts and provides support for victims.

There were several agencies in New Zealand that could be developed into a national response centre, and Groot would support them with her work in mapping individual scams and supporting victims.

“It’s not just about stopping millions of dollars being siphoned overseas every year, it’s also about looking after the wellbeing of Kiwis who have these offences committed against them.”