Cyber fraud has become most common form of fraud

Brian Hay

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay has been a member of the Queensland Police Service for 30 years. Since 2004, Hay had extensively worked in the area of fraud and corporate crime and at present has principal responsibility for the management and direction of the Fraud & Corporate Crime Group.

brainBrian has a broad investigative background with forays into the investigation of drugs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, sexual predators and public sector corruption.

These duties have been interspersed with uniform general duties and corporate responsibilities.

He is regarded as having a degree of expertise within the fraud and cyber environments and is often sought for media comment.

Harnath Sithamraju interviewed Brian. Following is the snippet of it. Harnath Sithamraju: We are so isolated in Australia how large a problem is fraud within this country. Do you have some data by state?

Brian Hay: We need to understand that fraud is not reported in many instances. Only 1-4% of the cases are reported and added to that cyberspace reporting will be much less. Most of the time police are called to investigate business expenses rather than crime. Majority of the cases involve Credit Card fraud.

In 2012-13 there have been an estimated frauds to the tune of $260 million but majority of it is not reported to the police. Fraud through Internet has risen considerably. Australia is the largest Internet connected country on the Planet. Internet connects about 90% whereas India is 12% and the rest of the World is around 23%. More connected you are, more the crimes. Criminals are well educated, sophisticated and well resourced in their operations.

HS: What can consumers do to protect themselves against fraudsters?

BH: There are various ways. Consumers should be aware that predators are out there and they have to be careful. Some of the points to note are:

a. Never send cash to persons you don’t know.

b. Understand that your identity is a valuable commodity and protect it by all means.

c. A bargain on the internet may not be a bargain at all

d. We all have a responsibility to fight fraud. It is not the job of the police or the businesses’ alone.

HS: What are the major trends that consumers should be concerned about in Australia?

BH: These days there are many types of fraud. After the advent of Internet, Cyber fraud has become most common form of fraud. Nowadays, there is a big increase in Phone fraud, most notably regarding offer for maintenance of Microsoft system in your computer. Most recently there have been cases involving Telstra and their products. Also there has been a significant increase in Phone scams lately. Cyber fraud is more driven through Phishing.

What is of particular interest is that all frauds have been driven by technology and that indicates the level of sophistication involved in committing frauds.

HS: If I have been a victim of fraud what should I do?

BH: First thing a victim of fraud should do is to report to Police. You should also advise your Bank or Financial provider immediately. As a precaution you must scan your computer with the latest anti-virus software. Change your Password regularly. You must also consider reporting to a Credit rating agency regarding the fraud so that they know you are victim of fraud and therefore may be alerted on any fraudulent transactions. This may cost you around $25 but will protect you against identity theft.

HS: What is the government doing to protect Australian consumers against international crime syndicates’?

BH: Government takes a National perspective of frauds and financial fraud is seriously taken. In Australia, we have heeded the European Convention on Cyber Crime International Group. I am a member of International Mass Marketing Fraud Working Group. We often represent at the International Conferences to share our experiences. I recently visited New Delhi, India for a presentation on Credit Card fraud. Fraud resilient unit is part of World Community.

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