ANZ, Westpac continue to combat scams

Both invest in new scam detection and prevention measures

ANZ, Westpac continue to combat scams


By Mina Martin

Major banks ANZ and Westpac have sounded the alarm against scammers and fraudsters who are taking advantage of Australians who are already struggling due to the increasing cost-of-living pressures, as they continue to implement new measures to better protect their consumers.

Those seeking additional income are being targeted – Westpac

Latest Westpac data revealed a 1,000% surge in job scams so far in 2023, from just a handful of cases in 2022, with Australians aged 31-40 (32% of reported cases), those aged 18-30 (30%), and women (58%) most likely to be affected by job scams.

“We’ve seen a significant spike in reported job scams since the start of the year, which occur when someone is tricked into making a payment or sharing personal information through a fake employment offer,” said Ben Young (pictured above left), Westpac head of fraud.

“Often, scammers will have fraudulently obtained some of your information like your phone number or address, which can make an offer sound legitimate. They also exploit the application process by tricking you into sharing more personal details like your driver’s licence, passport, or tax file numbers.

“Scammers also use fake job offers to trick you into sending money through some kind of upfront payment, such as training or other work-related equipment.”

Westpac said in a statement said it is continuing to invest in new scam detection and prevention measures and is now stopping more than 60% of all cases.

ANZ to implement mule account detection capabilities

ANZ, too, has invested in a new security capability – one that is designed to detect mule accounts being used to receive funds from scam victims and other criminal activities.

The mule detection capability utilised AI and machine learning to recognise money mules and mule accounts. These are people or companies recruited by criminals to transfer illegally obtained money or goods on their behalf, typically by receiving funds into their bank account then moving the money to another financial institution, or via alternative payment methods, such as the purchase of cryptocurrency.

The mule detection technology, supported by a new and dedicated mule detection team, will be implemented across ANZ’s security systems by September, following a successful pilot in April, which spotted nearly 1,400 high-risk accounts.

“Stopping mule accounts is a critical component of scam prevention and disrupting sophisticated criminal enterprises,” said Shaq Johnson (pictured above right), ANZ head of customer protection.

“In identifying and blocking mule accounts, we effectively starve criminals of the resources they need to carry out the activity. By disrupting the infrastructure that supports scams, it becomes more difficult for these online criminals to operate and impact innocent individuals.”

Spotting mule accounts often results in the dismantling of additional scam networks and prevents future scams.

“Mule accounts are often linked to larger criminal networks involved in organised crime, fraud, and scams,” Johnson said. “Our new mule detection technology and the mule detection team will better enable us to identify these accounts, stop the illegal activity and gather valuable information about individuals or groups behind sophisticated scams.

“There is a whole-of-community response needed to scam prevention, and while banks play a critical role, customers can also protect themselves by remaining alert to unsolicited contact and requests to move funds.”

ANZ said in a statement that it is continually reviewing and adjusting its capabilities as new scams emerge and as cyber criminals change how they operate. The bank said it has stopped more than $78 million from going to criminals in the last 12 months.

How are you helping your customers protect themselves against scams? Share them with us in the comments section below.

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