Westpac Bank has made a major announcement about how it will handle cryptocurrency exchanges. Over the past decade, crimes have become more common and the public nature of Blockchains makes hacking for criminals relatively easy, according to experts Chainalysis Vice President Investigations Erin Plante. Westpac hopes that the project, which will, it claims, protect customers from certain cryptocurrency payments, will reduce the “devastating” scams that can cause customers to lose money. According to Westpac’s latest data, about half of all scam losses are due to scams and a third (33%) of all scams go directly to cryptocurrency exchanges, where they’re almost impossible for law enforcement to track. Westpac Group technology executive Scott Collary believes the new security measures could potentially save customers millions.
“Digital exchanges have a legitimate role to play in the financial ecosystem,” Mr Collary said. “But since the rise of digital currency, we’ve noticed scammers are increasingly using overseas exchanges. Often our customers only discover they’ve been scammed after the money has left the country, making recovery extremely difficult.”
The new protection blocks are being tested in phases throughout the late May and join a number of recent initiatives, including Westpac Verify, which alerts the customer if a payment is made to a BSB with a different account number or a mismatch in account names. Currently, Westpac’s scam and fraud teams claim to detect more than 60 per cent of attempted scams.
According to the consumer advocacy group Choice, crypto scams have cost Australians more than $129 millions in 2021 alone. Scammers’ tricks have also continued to evolve, including the introduction of fake apps and ATO messages. “Red flags” for investment scams include fake social media ads, fake websites and documents as well as spoofing programs. Scammers may also have personal information that they do not want to disclose or ask the target to perform a task while on the telephone.