KiwiSaver retirement accounts prime target for scammers

New Zealanders need to be wary of scammers as KiwiSaver balances grow and increasing numbers of accounts become available to people turning 65, says CFFC’s Fraud Education Manager Bronwyn Groot.

Bronwyn Groot croppedKiwiSaver was launched in 2007, and there is now an estimated $10.5 billion in funds due to be withdrawn by people aged 55 to 64 over the next decade as they reach 65.

“All of a sudden people have access to large sums of money, and fraudsters are increasingly sophisticated in finding out who those people are,” says Groot. “They will target you and do anything they can to defraud you of your savings.”

Groot is supporting a 72-year-old Auckland man who was scammed out of $209,000 in retirement savings through an investment fraud. He was groomed by two men posing as British brokers working for an asset management firm in Hong Kong. They talked their way out of his questions, and he only realised they were part of a scam when he saw a warning on the Financial Markets Authority website.

“Unfortunately cases like this will become more common as KiwiSaver balances mature,” says Groot.

She also warns people against transferring their KiwiSaver funds to new operators without doing due diligence to check if they are legitimate providers. People can check if a provider is licensed via the Companies’ Office Financial Service Providers Register

Groot advises people approached with deals to stop and think whether it might be a scam. Ask for the person’s credentials and say you’ll call them back after you’ve contacted the company they claim to be from, or checked a register like the one above.