Voice of a scammer: Call reveals ‘incredibly convincing’ tactics and how to spot red flags
He said his name was Martin Moore and he was calling from the Westpac bank fraud prevention team.
There had been a transaction involving his credit card in Mexico, and he was checking to see if it was legitimate.
Looked like the bank was on it. After all, he knew her full name, phone number, credit card details and address. And she was definitely not in Mexico.
In fact, it was a scam.
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Westpac Bank released a recording of the call to show the “incredibly convincing” techniques the scammers used to swindle money from unsuspecting victims – and to flag red flags.
The bank recently surveyed over 1,300 customers and found that around half had a harder time identifying scams, while almost 90% thought they had received an email, text or phone call they thought been a scam in the previous six months.
During May’s scam phone call, “Moore” started the conversation by confirming he had the right person, then said he was calling about his credit card. If she wanted to verify his authenticity, the number he was calling from was on the back of his card, he claimed.
He then supposedly verified his identity by reading the last digits of his credit card number.
He informed her that a transaction had been attempted by a “Palacio Herrero” in Mexico using his card.
The woman confirmed that she was not in Mexico and had only been there once, in 1970.
Moore said he should cancel the woman’s credit card and send her a new one, checking that he had the correct mailing address. He reassured her that no money had left her account.
He then sent what he claimed was a six-digit cancellation code. The message actually said “use this password to complete your online purchase”.
On his second request, the woman read the number and Moore said he was able to reverse the payment.
While discussing the number on the back of her card, the woman told Moore that the card said customer service was in New Zealand, but Moore’s number was not.
Moore said that because his transaction was attempted in Mexico, it was an overseas transaction, which is why he was calling.
Concerned about the authenticity of the call, the woman said she was “just not comfortable” and would check with her personal banker. The conversation then ended.
Westpac’s financial crime manager Mark Coxhead said the customer did not lose any money. The scammer was trying to scam her into making an online purchase worth approximately $1,400.
The bank released the recording to demonstrate the complexity of modern scams.
“There are a few red flags, which are called out in the video, but one alone may not be enough to make someone immediately think something is wrong, especially with the call. which appears to be from a Westpac number.
“The main thing viewers should take away is that a small amount of personal information coupled with an urgent, authoritative tone can make anyone feel compelling if you’re caught off guard.”
The call’s red flags included:
- The unexpected nature of the call.
- Constantly referring to her as madam and madam.
- Repeatedly using “fraud prevention team” and saying he had verified himself.
- The bank does not send codes to customers to cancel payments.
Coxhead said there has been a “huge increase” in scams over the past few years, particularly over the past 12 months.
Scammers used personal information, obtained illegally, to appear legitimate. Often victims of scams had been phished and had inadvertently provided their details at another time.
“This can be done via a phishing email or text message, or by clicking on a compelling online advertisement.
“Once you give your details, they could be used by this scammer or sold to someone else.”
Coxhead’s advice to customers was to be “vigilant” of any unsolicited contact from service providers, even if they mentioned their personal details.
A Things an earlier investigation revealed that at least three New Zealand women, Joanne, Donna and Samantha – not their real names – had been tricked into giving more than $2 million between them to men they had met through the Tinder online dating app in almost identical cons.
MARK TAYLOR / TIPS
Joanne* lost around $540,000 in a Tinder scam.
Following the revelations, Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee agreed to open a briefing on banks’ responsibility to identify and protect customers with regard to ‘characteristics’ and ‘red flags’ of these scams.
The briefing began with banking ombudsman Nicola Sladden telling the committee it was clear that scams were a “significant and growing problem”, with the number of complaints having quadrupled in the past seven years.
Figures from cybersecurity organization CERT NZ revealed nearly $70 million in losses from scams since March 2017. Losses in the last quarter of 2021 totaled $6.6 million.
Sladden said banks, social media companies, government agencies and police urgently needed to work together to tackle the rise in so-called “romance scams” and online fraud.
Coxhead said he has worked with numerous organizations when investigating financial crime, including other banks and the police.
“In addition to continuing to add resources to our team and implementing changes to protect our customers, there are certainly industry-level discussions about how we can support and educate the community about scams. , and how we can collectively prevent financial crime.”