Waging the next war on scams

Scammers are among the most opportunistic criminals and they have no moral compass. They pose as the Australian Taxation Office during tax season, charities after a disaster and health services during a pandemic.

“The scammers are getting so sophisticated that they even copy the way we contact our customers. They will read our policy statement and use our music on hold. They know exactly how to talk to their victims.

Recently, I spoke on ABC Radio’s The Conversation Hour about the rise in scam activity and how it is becoming more sophisticated and harder to track and trace. This is a cross-industry issue, involving not just banks, but also telecom operators, social media platforms, governments and regulators.

The most recent ACCC scam watch data shows Australians lost over $2 billion to scams last year and that figure is on track to nearly double in 2022. Around 55% of that figure is made up of investment scams – 9,600 reports at a cost of $177 million.

The main driver of this increase has been cryptocurrency investment scams, which have seen losses climb 27% to $99 million in 2021. Over the past 12 months, ANZ has recovered or prevented approximately $80 million from dollars worth of scams targeting customers and took down hundreds of phishing websites each. month.

Although the value of losses from scams is breaking records year after year, it is important to remember that this is not the only troubling factor at play. The true cost of scams can cause emotional and sometimes physical harm to people. , even long after the event has ended.

Future scams

At ANZ, our teams spend countless hours every week trying to stay ahead of the ever-changing scam environment, scanning the dark web for phishing or fake websites or tracing the newest text bot. We work around the clock to anticipate ever-changing tips and trends.

The scammers are getting so sophisticated that they even copy the way we contact our customers. They will read our policy statement and use our music on hold. They know exactly how to talk to their victims.

They also often advise their victims on what to tell the bank. Even if we detect a suspicious transaction and call the victim, the scammers have told him what to say.

It is extremely difficult for our team to read between the lines and these conversations with customers are very difficult.

While legacies of Nigerian princes and fake lottery scams dominated, today scammers are targeting victims in real time using publicly available online data. They also exploit current trends such as cryptocurrency or non-existent investment opportunities.

ANZ has invested millions of dollars over the past three years in new technologies to detect scams, particularly those with behavioral profiling capabilities.

We have invested in a behavioral biometrics solution that helps us determine if we are interacting with our customer or a scammer. This is an important development as traditional anti-fraud controls are no longer quite fit for purpose.

The most common loss scams, as reported by the ACCC scamwatch are:

Investment scams: $701 million

This encompasses cryptocurrency, bond, pension, and sports betting scams. Scammers lure victims with the lure of getting rich quick, promising big payouts and guaranteed returns.

Cryptocurrency investment scams saw the biggest jump with Scamwatch receiving 4,730 reports. Many captured victims have little market knowledge and have engaged with scammers via Google searches or fake social media ads. They enter their details on websites and receive calls from scammers posing as cryptocurrency brokers.

Shaq’s advice: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Call your bank if you are unsure.

Romance and romance scams: $142 million

These target people looking for love or companionship. This type of scam is not new, but scammers are constantly finding new and inventive ways to use emotional triggers to gain the trust of victims in order to obtain money, gifts or personal data.

They usually take place via dating sites, but scammers can also use email or the phone to ‘Catfish’ their victims. The $142 million lost in 2021 was up from $131 million in 2020, according to the ACCC.

Shaq’s advice: Be careful when sharing personal information online and never send money to anyone you haven’t met in person.

Payment redirection scams: $227 million

Payment redirection also includes the Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams that caused the highest losses to businesses in 2021.

This happens when a hacker gains access to a company’s email accounts or spoofs a work email address or phone number.

The hacker sends emails or text messages to customers claiming that a business address or bank details have changed. They use legitimate-looking emails to trick victims into clicking a link to fix their account.

In other cases, hackers have intercepted house deposits and redirected large sums of money overseas or into crypto wallets.

Shaq’s advice: By the time victims admit they have been scammed, it is often too late. It depends on when the money is transferred and where it goes. If it goes to a crypto wallet, it becomes incredibly difficult to trace and recover.

Phishing scams: $4.5 million

Phishing messages appear to come from your financial institution and ask consumers to provide card or online banking details. Criminals then use this information to facilitate payments or purchases from customer accounts.

Scammers also ask customers for copies of identity documents that can be used to commit identity theft.

Phishing scammers can send an SMS to report suspicious activity and trick customers into authorizing or canceling payments through a link. They will ask customers to confirm card details so the bank can investigate.

Shaq’s advice: Listen carefully to what you have been asked to do. Banks will never ask you to move your funds. They will never open an account in your name or ask you to transfer funds to that account. If we believe your account has been compromised, we have measures to protect customers.


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