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‘200% rise’ in voice scams in APAC as gangs pivot to call centers

Visa shores up payment security in Singapore
‘200% rise’ in voice scams in APAC as gangs pivot to call centers

There has been a 200 percent surge in voice scams from 2022 to 2023 in the APAC region according to a new report, fueled by “call center gangs” mainly operating from Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Myanmar.

The report, released by digital fraud prevention firm BioCatch, claims criminals in the region are pivoting from sex trafficking to human trafficking for call center scams, as this offers higher profit margins.

These coerced workers are allegedly used to conduct a variety of scams, including tech support, romance, and investment frauds, often targeting victims internationally and exploiting legal jurisdictional complexities to evade consequences.

In addition, the report revealed that 54 percent of all confirmed fraud cases in APAC looked at could be traced back to authorized push payment (APP) fraud attacks.

Authorized push payment is a form of scam where the victim is tricked into sending money to a fraudster posing as a genuine payee.

Visa introduces fraud prevention initiatives

The reports of surging fraud in APAC come as Visa is looking to roll out new anti-fraud measures in the region.

The payments giant says it has rolled out a series of payment security initiatives as part of an updated “security roadmap” in Singapore, with the aim of providing increased protections for both physical and online transactions.

Specifically, Visa says it is looking at real-time fraud detection systems, investing in technologies such as secure credential frameworks and digital authentication frameworks as part of its updated security roadmap. It will also look to adopt EMV 3DS, an e-commerce fraud prevention protocol.

Visa’s own research confirmed the prevalence of fraud in the APAC region, claiming that one in three — 31 percent — respondents in Singapore had been a victim of fraudulent use of their personal credit or debit cards.

Visa’s research also demonstrated an openness to biometric technology among consumers in the region.

More than half (53 percent) say they believe biometric payments are a safer way to pay, while 75 percent are aware of the technology.

However, the report also found that though few consumers in Southeast Asia use digital identities, just 18 percent, though 71 percent are aware of the technology and 63 percent are interested in it.

A payments study by Javelin Strategy & Research and SAS also highlights how “robocalls, vishing and phishing” are serious issues for Singapore consumers, with one source noting that “the perpetrators are very polished.”

It highlighted how in response, “financial firms in Singapore are enacting push notifications to account holders and daily transaction limits.”

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