FMA fears Chinese New Zealanders are under-reporting investment scams

MR No. 2021 – 4

Chinese New Zealanders are being urged to beware of investment scams in the current economic climate, and to report any investment scams to the Financial Markets Authority (FMA).

The FMA is New Zealand’s government regulator of investments, and also investigates reports of scams involving financial services.

Amid the Lunar New Year celebrations, the FMA is reminding Chinese New Zealanders how to spot an investment scam and what to do if they encounter one.

In 2020, the FMA received almost 200 reports of scams and fraud, but only a handful of complaints were from Chinese New Zealanders. That’s despite a 2020 FMA survey finding around one in five Chinese New Zealanders had been approached about a potential investment scam – the same as the overall population.

FMA Director of Regulation Liam Mason suspects many scam victims are choosing to not report scams: “They may not know who to contact about a scam or may think there’s no point because it’s a small amount or they haven’t actually lost money.

“We’re also aware of cases where scammers have even warned victims will get in trouble with New Zealand authorities if they report the crime. This is obviously not correct.”

Mr Mason says the FMA’s Chinese-speaking staff are dedicated to investigating scams, and its call centre uses interpreters to help complainants when English is not their first language.

“We want to hear from anyone who has encountered a potential investment scam – whether they are just suspicious or have actually lost money, or know someone who has.”

“This Year of the Ox, scammers will continue to work hard to steal honest people’s money. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by sending anyone money without doing the basic background checks.”

That includes searching two New Zealand Government websites: Anyone offering investments to New Zealanders should be on the Financial Services Providers Register and should not be on the FMA’s list of scam warnings.

He adds that investors should not be easily fooled by professional-looking websites, and that the use of online tools is a common thread among investment scams.

“These days scammers are advertising on social media, using messaging apps to arrange payments, using websites with the same names and details as real businesses – anything to look legitimate.”

Further advice on how to spot a scam and what to do if you encounter one – including reporting them to the FMA – is on the FMA’s new Chinese language scams webpage (投资类骗局).

“Scammers thrive on secrecy. They prey on people’s desire not to lose face or cause a fuss. But that only helps them keep scamming others. Reporting them means we can investigate, warn the public, and refer victims to other agencies who may have more tools to help,” concludes Mr Mason.

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