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As more of our lives exist online, the potential for digital fraud has broadened. However, official online portals mean that people can report fraud with a degree of anonymity and protect themselves. In addition, online reporting can be more accessible and faster to act on. Therefore, this article will go through how you can report fraud online in New Zealand.

What Is Fraud?

As a legal concept, fraud is a criminal offence that is the intentional act of one or more people that involves deception to gain an unjust or illegal advantage. This advantage can often be financial in nature, that leads to a financial loss to a:

  • person;
  • company; or
  • corporation.

Fraud is a dishonest offence that can involve a wide range of activities. For example, these activities can include:

  • forgery;
  • online scams;
  • identity theft;
  • accessing computers or digital documents for a dishonest purpose;
  • insider trading;
  • asset misappropriation; or
  • using confidential knowledge for personal gain.

If you want to report fraud online, where you report it will depend on: 

  • what kind of dishonest activity occurred;
  • Where the fraud happened;
  • who committed fraud;
  • the severity of any losses; and
  • whom it affected.

For example, a scam does not immediately qualify as the legal criminal offence of fraud. However, it does when the scammer dishonestly gains access to a person’s personal or financial details and uses them to their own advantage, such as identity theft.

How Can I Report Fraud Online?

Various official bodies have online reporting systems in New Zealand. Which one you decide to use will depend on the facts of your situation and what has happened. Many of these agencies have partnered with each other, which mean that they can direct you to a more appropriate body if need be. 

If you or someone else are in danger, or there is a crime happening, you should immediately call 111 or go to your nearest Police Station. 

The paragraphs below list some agencies you can contact if you wish to report fraud online.

The Serious Fraud Office

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is a law enforcement body investigating dishonest financial crimes, including serious and complex fraud. Their teams include: 

  • investigating lawyers;
  • forensic accountants;
  • investigators;
  • electronic forensic investigators; and
  • document management specialists.

They tend to investigate cases that have a significant impact on the economy and the well-being of New Zealanders. Therefore, they may take on an investigation where:

  • there are multiple victims of said fraud;
  • those involved are in important positions of trust;
  • the alleged criminal acts have significant legal or financial complexities that the SFO’s resources can best deal with; or
  • there are allegations of bribery or corruption.

Therefore, they do not take on cases only involving:

  • tax evasion;
  • identity fraud; or
  • civil disputes.

If you think that your situation will have far-reaching consequences that can significantly affect other New Zealanders, then contacting the SFO may be a good option. You can report fraud online here, and the SFO will evaluate whether they can investigate your case. If they cannot, they will refer you to someone who can.

Netsafe

Netsafe is a nonprofit organisation that aims to protect the online safety of New Zealanders. They can work together with government and enforcement agencies to help you and give you advice about what you can do if you are a victim of fraud online. In addition, they also deal with:

You can report an incident here, and Netsafe can help you figure out what to do next.

CERT NZ

The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) is an organisation that the government set up to confront cybercrime and improve cybersecurity in New Zealand. As such, if you are the victim of fraud due to a cybercrime or cybersecurity incident, CERT can help you fix vulnerabilities in your security systems and help you move forward. They work closely with government and nonprofit partners (like Netsafe), who they can refer you to where appropriate. You can report an incident to CERT here.

Other Places to Report

If your instance of fraud involves a particular company or service that you use, contacting them for a resolution can be a good place to start as well. For specialised instances of fraud, you may need to contact specific bodies, such as Work and Income or your bank. A lawyer can also help you figure what to do if you are the victim of fraud.

Key Takeaways

As a criminal offence, someone commits fraud when they intentionally deceive to gain an unjust or illegal advantage, usually involving some kind of financial loss or gain. There are various places where you can report online, but these will depend on the circumstances of your situation. If you would like more information about reporting fraud online, contact LegalVision’s data, privacy and IT lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I report online fraud?

You can report online fraud to Netsafe or CERT, which are both organisations that deal with fraud that happens online. However, if it is serious enough, you may consider reporting it to the Serious Fraud Office.

What is the SFO?

The Serious Fraud Office is a law enforcement agency that investigates serious and complex fraud, as well as bribery and corruption. They typically investigate serious financial crimes.

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