The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Beware of RWC scams

22 July 2011

The Department of Internal Affairs’ Anti-Spam Compliance Unit is warning the public to be vigilant when opening emails or SMS messages during the run-up to the Rugby World Cup 2011.

Senior investigator, Toni Demetriou, says major international events are attractive to e-criminals as they can exploit them online in many ways.

“The Rugby World Cup 2011 is no different,” Mr Demetriou said. “There have already been email claims that the recipient has won a million dollars in a lottery promotion operated by the governing body of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The claim is untrue. There is no prize and the email is not from organizers of the Rugby World Cup. In fact, the message is a scam designed to trick recipients into sending money and personal information to Internet criminals.

“Spammers and scammers are competent and capable and they will recognise the Rugby World Cup 2011 as a high profile event which they can manipulate in a multitude of different ways, just as they did with the soccer world cup last year.

“People really have to be careful when they receive any unsolicited electronic messages, whether they are emails or SMS messages. The spammers and scammers have a rich playground of corporate branding and official sponsorship linked to the Rugby World Cup 2011 event to manipulate recipients into believing that they are receiving legitimate communications marketing and promoting the event.

“Messages sitting in an inbox or on your mobile phone may appear innocuous but if, as a recipient, you are not sure of the source or who the sender is then you need to be diligent. Something as simple as opening the email and clicking on a hyperlink in the body of the message can be enough to cause damage to your computer or handheld device. A recipient’s computer can be redirected to a website hosted offshore which has malicious content associated with it. This activity may infect a computer with malware, a Trojan or a virus as soon as the website is visited. Not only have you then got the inconvenience and costs associated with computer repairs but there is also a risk that if your computer is infected, personal information may also be stolen from you and your machine may become part of a botnet distributing more spam and causing more users to become infected.”
The anti-spam unit is also reminding New Zealand businesses and organisations to ensure they comply with the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 when marketing and promoting their goods and services through commercial electronic messages. All businesses need recipients’ consent for marketing emails and similar commercial electronic messages. If members of the public want to report spam, unsolicited electronic messages, they can contact the anti-spam compliance unit.

The unit publishes its enforcement activities monthly on the Department’s website.

Fans should be aware of ticket scams and only purchase RWC 2011 tickets and ticket-inclusive packages from official sales channels. Individual tickets are being sold by Rugby New Zealand 2011 Limited ( or official Travel and Hospitality packages by Rugby Travel and Hospitality 2011 ( Information about official sales channels is available on

Media contact:
Trevor Henry, senior communications adviser, Department of Internal Affairs
Ph 04 495 7211; cell 0275 843 679