>150,000 Money Laundering A/Cs Found In APAC: 70% Frauds In APAC Began From Apps

Across the region, the number of reported voice scams increased by 108% in 2023

BioCatch Director of Global Fraud Intelligence Tom Peacock

FinTech BizNews Service

MUMBAI, June 26, 2024 — A new financial crime report out today details how criminal organizations in the APAC region now outsource the laundering of money stolen via scams to international syndicates specializing in this cleaning. BioCatch identified and helped APAC banks shut down more than 150,000 money mule accounts in 2023 and estimates exponentially more such accounts in use across the region.

“Where there are scams, there are mules,” BioCatch Director of Global Fraud Intelligence Tom Peacock said. “Criminal organizations use these mule accounts as intermediate stops between the victim’s bank account and the final account from which they plan to withdraw their stolen money. The mules we’ve identified almost certainly represent a tiny fraction of those actively laundering money in the region, with more cropping up every day. Financial institutions in APAC and around the world must do more to identify these mules, hamper their ability to open new accounts, and identify those legitimate accounts money launderers succeed in turning from good to bad.”

In this latest edition of its Digital Banking Fraud Trends in APAC report, BioCatch – which identifies and prevents fraud and financial crime in real time by analyzing as many as 3,000 different physical behavior patterns (mouse movements and typing speed, for example) and cognitive signals (hesitation, segmented typing, etc.) in search of anomalies – points to mobile malware as the greatest threat to banks in Southeast Asia in 2024.

Key Findings of the Survey:

1.       Across the APAC region, mobile fraud has grown significantly. In 2023, 70% of all reported fraud originated from mobile apps, up from 53% in 2022.

2.       The report highlights 108% increase in voice scams as fraudsters continue shift to mobile.

3.       Fraud landscape in India is done through Mule accounts, Impersonation scam, Account takeover via phishing and malware, Investment & part-time job scam.

“Whether through SMS-mining or illegal loan apps, we’ve seen an explosion in Android-based malware in the region,” Peacock said. “Malware developers continue to innovate, circumventing bank and Google Play Store defenses to harvest what they need from mobile devices to access digital banking accounts and then transfer away the victim’s funds to a money mule.”

There is reason for hope in fighting fraud in APAC, however. In Australia, the number of reported scam cases grew by 13% in 2023, but scam losses declined by $90 million.

“Nine out of the 10 largest Australian banks employ BioCatch solutions to protect their customers from fraud and financial crime by analyzing the behavior of the user behind every online banking session,” BioCatch APAC Vice President Richard Booth said. “Already in 2024, we see massive progress: Money lost to fraud in the country declined by 48% in the first quarter of this year compared to Q1 of 2023. It’s difficult to reach any conclusion other than that BioCatch has left Australian digital-banking customers far safer from fraud than they were before.”

Other key findings:

·         No desktop or laptop needed: BioCatch found as much as 70% of all reported frauds in APAC originated from mobile apps in 2023, an increase of 17% from the year before.

·         Scams are everywhere: Across the region, the number of reported voice scams increased by 108% in 2023.

·         Australia bucking all trends: In addition to seeing fraud losses actually decline, the nation also saw fewer fraud cases involving malware or Remote Administration Tools (RATs) in 2023 than it did in 2022.

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