Vocalink tech helps Pay.UK fight fraud

Pay.UK’s Faster Payments team has launched the anti-fraud Mule Insights Tactical Solution (MITS), following a successful pilot by participants of the UK’s real-time payment service.

The technology, developed by Vocalink, a Mastercard company, enables suspicious payments to be tracked as they move between bank and building society accounts, regardless of whether the payment amount is split between multiple accounts, or those accounts belong to the same or different financial institutions.

MITS creates a visual map of where and when money has moved, providing data driven insights and new intelligence for fraud teams to take action.

By bringing together payments data from multiple banks and overlaying it with cutting-edge proprietary analytics and algorithms, MITS can pinpoint individual accounts - known as mule accounts - involved in suspected illegal activities. It will help the UK’s financial institutions detect and respond to criminal activity across the payments network, and has the potential to disrupt fraud and money laundering worth millions annually, according to a statement.

During the pilot, based on a limited number of suspicious transactions submitted for tracing to test MITS operational capability, thousands of UK accounts were subject to further investigation due to suspicious activity - a significant percentage of which were subsequently identified as mules.

Multiple, large, well-concealed money laundering rings were uncovered - where money was being moved between networks of accounts and institutions - while hundreds of mule accounts previously completely unknown to authorities were identified.

Mules are required to launder funds fraudulently obtained as a result of Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, phishing or malware scams. They are recruited by a variety of methods, including spam e-mails, adverts on genuine recruitment websites, approaches to people with their CVs available online, instant messaging and adverts in newspapers. Many may be unaware they are committing a criminal offence that can lead to severe penalties.

Paul Horlock, chief executive of Pay.UK, said: “This new initiative is a significant milestone in the UK’s fight against financial crime, giving the industry the potential to track the flow of illicit funds on a greater scale and with more speed and accuracy than ever before.

“The effective introduction of MITS can help to tackle money-laundering practices head-on and further disrupt criminal activity,” he continued. “Unfortunately there is no silver bullet to tackle fraud; by working in collaboration, financial institutions, payment system operators like ourselves, government and law enforcement agencies all have an important role to play in helping to protect consumers.”

MITS has been created by Vocalink, the infrastructure supplier for the Faster Payments service, as part of a package of measures released and under development by the industry to further protect consumers online. MITS is underpinned by Vocalink’s financial crime-fighting solution, Anti Money Laundering Insights, which uses advanced data science across payments data from multiple institutions to help them address the issue of money laundering and mule networks.

David Rich, executive vice president of Vocalink Services, commented: “The innovative data science behind MITS enables us to spot and trace illicit accounts like never before – by bringing together payments data from multiple banks in a secure way, we are able to deliver a new kind of intelligence that analyses billions of transactions, connects the dots and then identify how the laundered money is split, layered and dispersed across the whole banking network.”

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