Whānau warned to not fall for pyramid schemes and conspiracy theories during lockdown

By Jessica Tyson

Whānau are being warned to not fall for pyramid schemes and conspiracy theories online during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Bay of Plenty regional councillor, actor and director Toi Iti spoke about the dangers of being online during the lockdown.

He says social media is a double-edged sword at times like this.

“We are able to connect to each other, but it also is a disseminator of really bad information and at a time when whanau are incredibly vulnerable financially wondering what the future holds for them, things that they come across on the internet can look attractive.”

It comes after conspiracy theories about COVID-19 have gone viral across the internet, with one, in particular, stating that the 5G wireless network makes people susceptible to COVID-19.

With protests across the country last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern recently weighed in to assure the public that 5G is not behind COVID-19.

"I can’t state it clearly enough, I almost hesitate to speak to it on this platform, it is just not true," Ardern said.

Iti also says whānau should also avoid getting involved in pyramid schemes marketed online.

He says schemes like this “genuinely hit a lot of people in the pocket”.

“Every time you sell a product a share of your profits will be going to the layer above you and, really, to make money out of these schemes you have to get a sales team below you and they have lots of different names, like diamond level, platinum level, and all these kinds of things."

He warns that’s usually a dead give-away that it’s a bit of a scam.