Bankwest urges scam victims to speak up

The firm's scams and fraud team reveals total cost of scams on customers

Bankwest urges scam victims to speak up


By Micah Guiao

Cyber scams have been rising at an alarming rate over the decade ­– even more so in remote work set-ups amid this current climate of financial, employment and psychological uncertainty.

As such, Bankwest is calling to end the stigma of embarrassment as victims of fraud, urging people to warn family and friends in time for Scams Awareness Week this November 8-12.

This comes after Bankwest’s Scams and Fraud team found that scammers have duped more than $16 million from customers in the past 12 months since September 2020. And while the bank was able to salvage half that sum – but recovering funds is not always possible.

In total, Bankwest recorded more than 2,700 cases and more than 11,500 calls concerning scam issues, with remote access/IT scams being the most common at 29% volume and Investment/Job scams being the most profitable at $4 million.

The former involves criminals posing as tech support to unlock a victim’s computer and install malware for continued access, while the latter banks on emails that introduce opportunities for crypto investments and help the victim set up fake trading platforms.

However, the most malicious scam was the “business email compromise,” which entails a hacker gaining access to and editing business invoices, replacing payment details with their own bank accounts. Although this scam only accounted for 3% of the cases, it ended up snatching $1 million from customers in November and December 2020 alone.

Audrey Pajmon, executive manager for fraud management services at Bankwest, said a large part of combating scams is being open about the experience to warn others instead of hiding behind stigma.

“One of the most effective weapons wielded by scammers is the hesitation of victims to discuss the matter and seek help, often out of embarrassment, but our data shows, increasingly, these victims are not alone,” Pajmon said. “These criminals are professionals at what they do, developing increasingly sophisticated methods and preying on our most fundamental human needs, so it’s critical we eliminate the stigma of embarrassment.”

Pajmon urged people to get informed using several resources from Scamwatch as well as ACCC’s Little Black Book of Scams. Bankwest also has its own manual called the Safe and Savvy Guide that covers scam, fraud, and financial abuse.

The table below is data retrieved from Bankwest’s Scams and Fraud team.

Source: Bankwest

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