People were being targeted by scams through bogus emails and phone calls, with incidents of email account hacking also on the increase.
Helen Cowin, Business Risk Manager for RBS International, said: “We started to see a changing trend. Typically we’d see fraudulent payments coming into our Operations Centre, where we could spot them. But now fraudsters were cutting out the bank and targeting customers directly.”
It wasn’t just the Isle of Man that was affected – Jersey, Guernsey and Gibraltar were also seeing an increase in this type of behaviour.
As Cowin explains, small jurisdictions like these can be more vulnerable to fraud because they’ve tended to see very low levels of this type of crime in the past. As a result, some customers have been caught off guard by unscrupulous crooks.
To combat the trend, Cowin organised a fraud awareness event for customers on the Isle of Man. Inspired by the enthusiastic reception the event got from participants, Helen decided to roll the initiative out in earnest, and went on to deliver a total of 28 sessions for over 500 people.
“The presentations educate people about what to look out for and how to react,” she explains.
In Guernsey, the sessions were so successful that the island’s police force got in touch to request a meeting with Cowin. They wanted to tap into the bank’s expertise so they could be better equipped to clamp down on fraudulent activity.
“They were aware that fraud was increasing in Guernsey,” Cowin says. “As a financial centre it was important to address that, and to prevent businesses being scared away. They asked for our help in recognising trends and combatting them.”
Feedback from the workshops’ attendees was very positive. One customer even told Cowin how they received a potentially fraudulent email the very next day - previously they would have responded, but thanks to the session they now exercised proper caution.
“We’ve got to keep up with trends and how the world is changing,” she says. “If customers are taking a financial loss from something we can help them with we should respond.