Bendigo Bank stepped in before scammers got their greedy mitts on more than $100,000 every day for 12 months, the man leading the fight says.
That added up to $38.6 million amid a global surge in online scams, phishing and other fraud, the bank's head of fraud Jason Gordon said as he launched the newest weapon in his arsenal on Friday, September 8.
"A lot of it is around banking online safely," he said of the new education program that Bendigo Bank's community banking branches are rolling out in the regions they serve.
Community banking staff will run face-to-face talks and other education campaigns with community groups and others.
That could prove invaluable now that most banking customers are online, including the quarter of Australians deemed "digitally excluded" over issues like access to smartphones, tablets, laptops or the internet, Mr Gordon said.
"We have a really big opportunity here, whether people are our customers or not," he said.
'We are operating 24/7'
Mr Gordon leads a team that doubled in 12 months as the industry raced to deal with a surge in scams worldwide.
That included the daily average $105,000 in dodgy activity that the bank detected over a year.
"So that's actual fraud, not just potential exposure," Mr Gordon said.
He did not go into specifics but said his team had sifted through systems, algorithms and other avenues to track payment activities and customer trends.
"[We] weed out the fraudsters whilst impacting our customers the least amount as possible for genuine payments," Mr Gordon said.
It was a never-ending cycle of work, he said.
"We are operating 24/7, we are monitoring new threats and creating new awareness," Mr Gordon said.
'Hi Mum', you just got scammed
Scammers' technology is rapidly evolving.
Some are now fleecing Australian consumers by disguising phone numbers to imitate banks in one recent example of emerging technology.
Others criminals' approaches are not quite as sophisticated.
Police began warning people late last year not to fall for a so-called "Hi Mum" scam.
Criminals were sending texts posing as their victims' children and saying they had a new phone number.
The Hi Mum scam was among a host that had fueled community concerns about online crime, Mr Gordon said.
'The growing prevalence of financial crime, fraud and scams is quite confronting, even if you don't face digital barriers," he said.
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Mr Gordon was discussing fraud on the sidelines of Bendigo Bank's Community Bank National Conference 2023, which was wrapping up after three days at Bendigo's All Seasons Resort Hotel.
More than 600 delegates had gathered for the conference, which was taking place in the 25th year since Bendigo Bank launched its game-changing community bank model.
They injected $2 million into Bendigo's economy during their stay, the bank estimated.
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