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Scam design: the anatomy of online products & services scams

posted on 13.09.2021, 02:57 by Estrella, Rosanina

Netsafe New Zealand’s (2018) quarterly reports indicate that millions of dollars are lost through online products and services scams in New Zealand through social media and online platforms every year. In 2018 alone, there were over 10,740 total scams, with the highest reported fraud type being products and services. However, despite regular media attention and community conversation on the problem, why is the number of everyday users who fall for the same online traps continuously increasing? From fake competitions to counterfeit online goods retailers, it is shown that many users are quick to believe these impersonated companies are real, only to publicly vocalise their distress once they have succumbed to a scam.

This study provides insights into the overarching processes of how online products and services scams are constructed and implemented within social media and websites. Specifically, this study explores the mechanics, tools, techniques and frameworks that make up the basis of how online products and services scams work. Through these investigations, this study will develop a unique framework that captures the overarching process of how online products and services scams function from start to end. By creating 2 small design experiments, this new framework is further demonstrated within the context of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic online scams by deconstructing then reconstructing both commonly encountered and potential COVID-19 New Zealand specific scams that have appeared between March - June 2020.


Advisor 1

Langelaar, Walter

Advisor 2

Caudwell, Catherine

Copyright Date


Date of Award



Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Rights License

CC BY 4.0

Degree Discipline

Design Innovation

Degree Grantor

Victoria University of Wellington - Te Herenga Waka

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Design Innovation

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

University Library

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Design Innovation