New Zealand. Action needed to lift low levels of cybercrime reporting
An epidemic of fraud and cybercrime is going unreported, official figures show, sparking calls for a new anti-cybercrime agency.
The New Zealand Crime and Victims Survey, published today, showed almost 400,000 people (about 7.5 per cent of adults) experienced one or more incidents of fraud or cybercrime over the last 12 months.
And yet, the report showed, fraud and cyber-crime was the least reported of all the types of crime.
Martin Cocker, chief executive of not-for-profit online safety organisation Netsafe, called for a new government agency to be formed as a first point of call for victims of fraud and cybercrime.
"Cybercrime and fraud victims feel foolish having become victims of scams, and that creates a reluctance to report," Cocker said.
There was no official 'one-stop-shop' the public could report scams to and rely on for the advice they needed, he said, calling for government to set one up.
One of its roles could be to "triage" cybercrime victims, he said, sending them on to the law enforcement agency that can help them seek justice, or at least feed into crime prevention.
Bronwyn Groot, fraud expert from the Commission for Financial Capability, said many people did not believe it was worth reporting cybercrime.
"International research has shown that people think nothing will be done with the information, so if they report it, they are wasting their time," she said.
That produced a low incentive for reporting, she said.
"The other thing is people, especially with online fraud, are aware the ability to recover money is extremely limited," said Cocker.
Once money has been sent overseas, getting it back is very hard indeed.
The report showed burglary was the crime with the highest likelihood of being reported.
In contrast to cybercrime, there was an incentive for reporting burglary as it was required by insurers handling contents insurance claims, said Groot.
Without a dedicated focus on fraud and cybercrime, New Zealand was lagging other countries in building law enforcement expertise against fraudsters and international cyber criminals, Cocker said.
A lack of reporting also meant the real scale of cybercrime was not being recognised, he said.
Creating a single reporting agency would also cut through confusion about which of the Police, Commerce Commission, Serious Fraud Office or Financial Markets Authority people should go to, Groot believed.
It could also help reduce the number of times people had to retell their story as they were bumped from law enforcement agency to law enforcement agency, she said.
Financial losses were not the only impact that victims are experiencing.
The report said the proportion of victimised people with a "moderate or high level of psychological distress" was high.
"There is a clear negative trend between the proportion of fraud and cybercrime victimisation and the level of life satisfaction. A similar clear negative trend was found between the proportion of fraud and cybercrime victimisation and the feeling of safety," it said.