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NAB anti-scam boss's $3b warning to Aussies: 'Tough ask'

NAB Anti-Scams team lead Daniel Marin sees Aussies getting targeted by scammers every day. Here’s what he wants you to know.

Aussies are being bombarded with scam calls, texts and emails every day. And scammers keep getting more and more sophisticated, with Aussies losing a record $3.1 billion to scams last year.

For Scam Awareness Week, NAB’s Anti-Scams team lead, Daniel Marin, has reflected on just how much scams have changed over his 10 years at the bank and what Aussies can do to protect themselves.

Back in 2015, Daniel Marin was offered a unique opportunity – to be part of a new team at NAB to tackle scams.

Scams were an emerging problem in Australia in 2015. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) Targeting Scams Report 2015, more than 105,000 Australians reported scams, with $85 million in reported losses. This figure has increased by more than 3,000 per cent in the past decade, to $3.1 billion.

NAB anti-scam team lead Daniel Marin surrounded by scam messages on a background of Australian money.
Daniel Marin joined NAB's anti-scam team in 2015. (Source: Supplied/NAB/ACCC/Getty) (Supplied/Getty/ACCC/NAB)

When Marin joined the anti-scam team - then consisting of just three people - he'd been with NAB for about six years, starting in the call centre. While completing a university degree in business and marketing, he worked his way through the NAB ranks to his role in what is now known as Digital Fraud & Scams.

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“The opportunity came up around an emerging trend of fraud and scams,” Marin said. “The scam situation was one no other big bank in Australia had catered for at the time.

“We recognised an opportunity in this space to support customers, and developed the anti-scam team in Fraud Operations.”

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Back then, dating and romance scams made the bulk of the losses nationwide, with more than $25 million reported lost to the ACCC.

“The majority of cases were around romance scams,” Marin said. “Goods-and-services scams were also being seen as social media came into the mix, and customers were letting us know they weren’t receiving what they’d paid for.”

Almost a decade later, romance scams still appear in the top five most reported scams targeting Australians. Last year, remote-access scams and investment scams were the two most common scams targeting individuals.

“At this time of year, many people are purchasing presents online, waiting for parcels and often sending and receiving payments as gifts. Scammers know this and can make anyone their target,” Marin said.

But it was the romance-scam stories that left an indelible mark on him all those years ago.

“When you are speaking with customers on the phone who have been vulnerable and gone through a difficult time, and then they’ve fallen into a romance scam and sent their entire life savings overseas and there is very little chance of us recovering their money … I vividly remember conversations I had with customers in this situation, and how I wanted to help.”

A lot has changed in the anti-scam team since then. Initially, the team was focused on trying to recover and trace funds for customers who would report a scam. Now, it is actively focused on preventing scams before they happen.

“Every day, we are seeing scammers directly targeting people through texts, emails, phone calls, computer messages and other sneaky tactics,” Marin said.

“Scammers are constantly developing new ways to steal your details and hard-earned money, so we continue to work hard to keep Australians safe, the best defence is being educated and alert.”

To help prevent scam activity, NAB has introduced a number of initiatives across the bank in the past 12 months, such as payment alerts in the NAB app and internet banking, and removing links from text messages.

It’s a tough ask to stay a step ahead of the criminals.

“It is a bigger problem than any one bank, or any one organisation,” Marin said, adding that recognising the red flags of scams could help stop a crime.

“My top tip for seeing through scams is knowing that NAB will never ask you to transfer money to another account to keep it safe,” he said.

“If you’re unsure something is legitimate, stop, think about your options, and protect yourself by running extra checks on the caller or sender before you respond. Your money is safe while it is in your account.”

Marin said if you thought you’d been scammed, “call your bank immediately and report the incident”.

How do I protect myself from scammers?

Aussies lost a record $3.1 billion to scammers last year, an 80 per cent increase on the previous year.

Scamwatch warn to beware of the following scenarios:

  • It’s an amazing opportunity to make or save money

  • Someone you haven’t met needs your help - and money

  • The message contains links or attachments

  • You feel pressured to act quickly

  • They ask you to pay in an unusual or specific way

  • They ask you to set up new accounts or Pay ID

What should I do if I think I’ve been scammed?

Contact your bank and report the scam. Ask them to stop transactions and stop sending any money.

Report the scam to Scamwatch here and make an official complaint to police here.

Watch out for follow up scams, particularly ones promising they can get your money back. Scamwatch warned one in three victims of a scam are scammed more than once.

Lastly, get support for yourself. You can talk to a financial counsellor or reach out to BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or here for an online chat or Lifeline for crisis support online here on 13 11 14.

You can also contact IDCARE to “reduce the harm they experience from the compromise and misuse of their identity information by providing effective response and mitigation”.

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