Scammer’s phone call released amid surge in activity

Chilling audio has been released of the moment a cunning and cruel scammer deceives a woman into handing over her banking details.

The man claimed he was from the Westpac fraud prevention team and was calling over a purchase made on the New Zealand woman’s card in Mexico.

The scammer maintained a cool and calm demeanour throughout the four-minute conversation as he meticulously executed his con.

The phone call was released by Westpac on Wednesday to help raise awareness following a recent spike in scam activity.

Camera IconA scammer claimed to be from Westpac’s fraud prevention team. Credit: istock

The scammer already had the woman’s credit card details but tried to pry a transaction approval code from her to make an online purchase.

He tried to elicit fear and urgency throughout the conversation by using the threat of a fraudulent transaction and repeatedly trying to verify his identity as a Westpac staff member.

“If you do want to check the authenticity of this call, you can check the number that I’m calling you from today,” he said.

“It’s on the back of your card.”

The man eventually claims he sent through a credit card cancellation code when in reality it was a password to complete an online purchase.

The woman relays the numbers to him but soon becomes distressed.

Hacker on computer
Camera IconThe scammer repeatedly tries to verify himself as a Westpac employee. Credit: istock

“Sorry, I’m just not comfortable,” she said.

“I’ll make a few inquiries with my personal banker too.”

The attempted scam failed after Westpac detected the suspicious transaction before any funds were sent, with the bank saying it demonstrated some of the warning signs customers should watch out for.

New data from Westpac shows the number of reported scams has increased by 33 per cent in the 12 months to July this year.

Westpac head of fraud Ben Young said scammers had become more sophisticated and difficult to detect, with impersonation scams among the most common targeting customers.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in cases where scammers are using software to mask their phone number with the number of a known business. This is a commonly employed tactic in impersonation scams known as ‘call spoofing’,” he said.

Close up young shocked woman looking at mobile phone screen.
Camera IconThe number of reported scams at Westpac has increased by a third. Credit: istock

“These scams are incredibly challenging to detect because from the customer’s perspective, they appear to be getting a call from say Westpac when, in fact, it’s a scammer posing as a member of our fraud team calling from a completely different number.

“The scammer will then use personal information they’ve fraudulently obtained, like quoting the customer’s name or last few digits of their credit card, to convince them the call is genuine.”

In a bid to combat these scams, Westpac has teamed up with Optus to become the first private Australian business to block calls from scammers impersonating the bank.

More than 94,000 Westpac phone numbers have now been added to a “Do Not Originate” list to prevent scammers from impersonating the bank.

Mr Young said it was important for customers to look out for any red flags if they received a suspicious phone call.

BANKS iNTEREST RATES
Camera IconWestpac has announced new scam support and prevention measures to combat this rise in activity. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

“We urge Australians to remain cautious of any unexpected phone calls, text messages or emails from a known business and always consider what they’re asking you to do,” he said.

If ever in doubt, hang up and call back on a publicly listed number to ensure the call is genuine.”

IMPERSONATION SCAM RED FLAGS:

  • Unsolicited contact. They unexpectedly call, SMS or email you claiming to be from a reputable business.
  • They know personal information. They have often already fraudulently obtained personal details like your name, ending digits on your credit card or approximate location, which makes them appear legitimate.
  • They want you to action something. They will instruct you to complete an action while on the phone to them – like updating your banking details, increasing your daily payment limit, downloading an app or sending money to a “new” account.
  • They use spoofing software. They may use software to send a fake SMS that appears to be from the business they’re allegedly calling you from while on the phone with you to convince you the call is genuine.

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