Around one in five Kiwis has been targeted by an investment scam, according to FMA research, Unfortunately, some have actually lost money.
Scammers thrive on the shame that often comes with such a loss. They don’t want victims to tell others about it because that could disrupt their dishonest activities.
Below are real stories of everyday Kiwis who lost money to investment scams – but took positive action by reporting it to the FMA and then sharing their stories so others can see what scams look like.
You can be a hero too. If you see or hear of any suspicious investment offers, contact the FMA.
Dad’s hero: Kate reports a scam that costs her father $700,000
When Kate* heard her father’s investment adviser had originally contacted him ‘out of the blue’, she suspected a scam. There were other red flags but he was convinced it was real. Kate took the initiative and emailed the FMA, which confirmed her fears were real – the entity Bob* had been dealing with had the signs of a scam. Unfortunately, by then Bob had already sent them $700,000.
Connected with a con: Nisha met a scammer on LinkedIn
Nisha contacted the FMA in May 2021 to report a scam that was targeting users of popular social media platform Linkedin – a scam which had cost her over $3000.
She'd connected with a woman on Linkedin who convinced her to send money to an entity called Standard Coin Options, which later insisted she pay ‘tax’ on her supposed ‘profits’ before they would release them – a variation of ‘advance fee fraud’, where you must pay to release non-existent funds.
How a family chat might have saved one man from losing $50,000 to an investment scam
When a band of international scammers launches a sophisticated, multi-person project to fleece you out of your money, your best protection might be closer to home than you think.
Bill* is in his early 70s, lives in a small provincial town and works in the health sector. He fell victim to an international share trading fraud which all began with an unsolicited phone call from a man in New York ringing as part of a survey. Read Bill's story.
Match! Jane met scammer on dating app and lost over $100,000
Jane* contacted the FMA in June 2021 to report a serious investment scam that had cost her more than $100,000. The scammer initially matched with Jane on popular dating app, Hinge, in March. After months of chatting, he lured her into a complicated investment scam involving supposed forex currency trading. Here’s her story.
Scammers using dating apps to lure investors
Tom lost $130,000 after a woman he met on Tinder talked him into forex trading that turned out to be a scam.
The sophisticated scam played out over five months, and included video calls and displays of wealth to win his trust, and warning signs such as pressure tactics and name changes. Read his story.
Private investment company impersonated by scammers
GRC Investments Limited is a private investment company based in Christchurch that scammers have sought to exploit by impersonating them.
The FMA issued awarningin September that an investment scam appeared to be operating under a similar name and falsely using the same Christchurch address and other details. Read the case study.
Don’t just trust: Samena was scammed by a co-worker
Samena works fulltime in the agricultural sector in Auckland. She’s saving for a house and was looking for ways to make her deposit grow faster.
She lost $2,300 after a co-worker she looked up to as an “older sister” talked her into giving money to a global cryptocurrency scam called OneCoin. Read Samena's story.
Know the scam warning signs: Bob’s story highlights the tactics scammers use
Bob is a consultant who lives in Christchurch. He’s invested in shares for many years, owns his own home, and is in KiwiSaver.
Beware boiler room scams: John’s story shows how scammers target investors
John recently lost US$39,750 through a ‘boiler room’ share scam.
John was contacted by an Asian research company doing a survey of New Zealand businesses. A week later, he received another call. This time it was from a trading company based in China asking if he wanted to purchase pre-IPO shares in Alibaba Group. Read John's story.
Supporting scam victims: read how Simon helped his father-in-law spot a scam
What would you do if you thought a family member was being scammed?
That was Simon’s dilemma after he became concerned about his father-in-law Richard. Simon believes the scammers first made contact with Richard by ringing him to take part in a phone survey - a classic scamming tactic. By taking the survey, the scammers find out personal finance details about their potential victim. Richard, who has been involved in the church for many years, was looking for good investments to enable him “to help other people”. Read his story.