COVID-19 related scams

Pressing a button on a keyboard that reads Scam Alert

International scams 

International regulators have been issuing warnings about investment scammers who are exploiting the current market conditions and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

These include the following investment offers observed overseas: 

  • Goods or industries experiencing strong demand, such as sanitary products or pharmaceutical companies
  • Products supposedly effective against COVID-19, such as vaccines, medications, protective gear or equipment 
  • So-called "safe haven" assets, including cryptocurrencies or precious metals such as gold, silver or platinum  

Scammers are also using common techniques to trick anxious consumers:

  • Phishing emails, claiming to be from health authorities, banks or insurers, trying to trick people into sending sensitive information, or open attachments with malware
  • Telephone scams, pretending to be from health authorities, claiming that a relative has fallen sick and requesting payments for medical treatment  

Related information:

For New Zealand investors

While the FMA has not yet received any reports of suspected investment scams targeting investors in New Zealand, it’s possible overseas and/or local scammers are already active here and attempting to take advantage of the current consumer concern and market conditions, in an effort to scam Kiwis.  

Accordingly, the FMA wants to remind investors of the typical warning signs of an investment scam. These include – but are not limited to – the following:  

  • Unsolicited offers / “cold” calls or emails. It is illegal to sell financial products this way in NZ. Anyone doing so is breaking the law and should be reported to the FMA 
  • High returns with low or no risk. In finance, high returns investments almost always carry a higher risk of losing some or all of your money, especially if over a short time period 
  • Unlicensed providers. In NZ, the FMA licenses business wanting to sell most types of investments. Avoid anyone offering an investment who is not on our list of Licensed Entities
  • "Exclusive" or “limited time only” offers. This is often a ploy to make you feel special and/or stop you speaking to an adviser or researching them. A legitimate business would not rush you 
  • Offshore and/or online-only businesses. Overseas financial services businesses are not regulated by the FMA. Scammers often try to look real by using authentic-looking websites, even with NZ addresses 
  • Little or no information in writing. Legitimate investments must have documents explaining the investment in plain English, which they must provide before you hand over any money

  If you see or hear of an investment offer that fits any of the descriptions above, take immediate action: 

  • Do not hand over any money. If you have already done so, talk to your bank about cancelling or reversing the transaction
  • Stop all contact with them. Hang up the phone if they call you, do not reply to any emails, and ignore any threats. If they keep calling, contact your telco provider to block the number 
  • Report them to the FMA. Complaints can be made by phone to 0800 434 566 (or +64 3 962 2698) during business hours, or email  

 Related information: