A chilling audio recording shared by Westpac has exposed how sophisticated phone scammers are becoming.
The four minute phone call, released on Tuesday morning, showed how a fraudster was able to extract a verification code from a customer.
The cyber criminal did so by pretending to be from Westpac’s own fraud division and claimed they needed the code to cancel the customer’s credit card because of a scam attempt.
They already had the customer’s credit card numbers but needed a one-time passcode to spend her money.
The male scammer spoke in a confident British accent and used phrases associated with banks, such as confirming the customer’s identity.
In fact, he even ‘spoofed’ his phone number, where he used software to appear like he was calling from a legitimate Westpac number.
Westpac issued the warning while also announcing that they have rolled out a new platform to stop future fraudulent schemes of this kind by partnering with Optus to protect their customers from fake phone calls.
More than 94,000 Westpac phone numbers have now been added to a ‘Do Not Originate’ list, which will prevent scammers from impersonating Westpac numbers, the bank said.
“Hello there, my name is Martin Moore, I’m calling from the Westpac fraud prevention team,” the scammer begins.
After her how she is, he says “I am calling in regards to your credit card.
“If you want to check the authenticity of this call, you can check the number that I am calling you on today. It’s on the back of your card.”
“There’s been a transaction attempted to Palacio Herrero in Mexico using your card details.”
He then reads out the last few numbers of her credit card.
“Are you currently in Mexico trying to use your card?” he continues.
When the customer says she is not in Mexico, the criminal then convinces her the bank will have to cancel her card.
“OK, what we’re going to do is we’re going to have to cancel this card for you today and send a new card to the address we have for you which is (redacted). Is that still the best address for you, ma’am?”
After she confirms this, he says they will send a new card which will take three to five business days to arrive. He then makes his gambit.
“So I have to send you a six to eight digit cancellation code.”
The woman then reads it out, giving them everything they needed to scam her.
Listen to the full conversation in the video box above.
Later on in the phone call the scammer said: “Now I do have to advise you that for training and quality purposes, calls are being recorded.”
The scammer had to think on his feet when the Westpac customer, based in New Zealand, questioned why she was being called from the bank’s Australian branch.
The scammer claimed it was because since the credit card breach had happened overseas and hence, he was part of the international fraud prevention team.
“We do need to go ahead and cancel your card and send you a new card … I do need to take you through quick security just to confirm I’m speaking to the account holder,” he continued.
It was at this point the woman began to grow suspicious.
She wouldn’t give him her date of birth details and she ended the call. Later, she would check with Westpac and they were able to stop any money leaving her credit account.
Westpac pointed out a number of red flags with the call, including the fact it was a cold call, that he identified himself using her credit card details, that he created a sense of fear and urgency and
The banking giant also pointed out they would never send a code to cancel payments, nor would they ask a customer to read out a security code over the phone.
Westpac said scams have increased 33 per cent since last year and said the schemes were becoming “increasingly sophisticated and difficult to detect”.
Westpac Head of Fraud, Ben Young, said: “The scammer will 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.
“It’s not only banks scammers are impersonating.
“We are seeing a variety of cases where scammers appear to be calling from telco or energy providers, online retailers, government organisations, or even pretending to be family members,” Mr Young added.
As well as rolling out its new phone blocking feature, Westpac has committed to increasing its scam prevention team by 50 per cent and launching new digital chat capabilities to connect normal staff members with scam specialists.