Increased vigilance crucial at exchange houses
Published: Sun 20 Aug 2017, 5:09 PM
Last updated: Sun 20 Aug 2017, 11:35 PM
If you thought that the message you received about winning a surprisingly large amount of money - that can only be claimed by transferring a very small participation fee - was too good to be true, then chances are that it probably is too good to be true.
Jointly held by the Foreign Exchange & Remittance Group (FERG) and Dubai Police, experts at a specialised training session on crime pattern detection in the remittance industry on Sunday discussed the many ways and tricks that criminals employ to scam unsuspecting customers.
"As the financial system in the UAE adopts world-class standards, criminals too adapt their methods and try finding innovative opportunities for illegal gain. Our mission is to stay a step ahead of them, and also to collaborate with partners such as FERG to raise awareness of the latest, trends and methods in financial crime," said Major General Khalil Al Mansouri.
While many of us may roll our eyes or ignore the offer of free money for the scam that it is, a fair portion of customers still fall for it, exchange house officials said. The best way to combat such threats in the industry is through customer and employee education, says Mohamed A. Al Ansari, chairman and managing director of Al Ansari Exchange.
"It is a challenge to stay one step ahead of the criminals when it comes to the security of the financial sector, but we know that our best defense is through employee training and customer education," he said. "The main problem is that even if one small crime is committed, then that sends out a message to other criminals. We always tell our customers to be cautious and aware of their surroundings. The UAE is not a country that is known for incidents such as purse snatching, but it always pays to be careful. This not only reduces such crimes, but it also deters future attempts by criminals."
Rajiv Raipancholia, treasurer at FERG also highlighted how security has been ramped up across different channels. "Today, it is very important for us as exchange houses to be very careful about security. Not just physical security at our branches, but digital security as well. Any e-mails that are sent from our branches or our head office should be without attachments unless absolutely required. And if they do include attachments, then the systems need to be checked and audited, because you never know where a hacker is going to enter from through our network."
Staff at the counter level, Raipancholia revealed, also had limited online access to certain sites, so that the level of threat is minimised. "Many times, our staff would unknowingly be led to sites that allowed a cybercriminal to charge into our systems. Also, the reconcilaition needs to be there on a day-to-day basis. This happens, for example, in case we remit funds to several different people; the very next day you should have an account of those transactions so that if there has been an attack, then its not to late to tackle the issue."