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Case study: Real outcomes resulting from financial crime guides

26 September 2022

Financial crime guides are designed to help your business identify and stop criminal activity. These guides provide you with patterns and indicators to understand, identify and report suspicious financial activity for a range of serious and organised crimes.

About the guide

In November 2021, the ‘Preventing misuse and criminal communication through payment text fields’ financial crime guide was released to help businesses understand, identify and report technology-facilitated abuse through financial transaction payment text fields. This guide helps financial services businesses identify the misuse of payment text fields and understand when to report this issue to AUSTRAC. Key indicators of financial transactions being used for this type of criminal activity include high volume payments at a low value. Payments can be as low as $0.01 and are typically below $10.

Real life implications

Following the release of the financial crime guide, AUSTRAC has seen an increase in suspicious matter reports detailing abusive messaging in financial transactions warranting referral to law enforcement.

In March and April of this year, a major bank reported two suspicious matter reports to AUSTRAC due to a customer using abusive language in the payment text fields. Following receipt of the suspicious matter reports, AUSTRAC worked with law enforcement to identify the subject of the reports and discover they already had an apprehended violence order in place. As a result of the financial intelligence and close partnership between government and industry, the subject of the report was located and arrested for breaching the apprehended violence order.

Additionally, to protect customers from abusive messages via payment text fields, some financial service providers have implemented measures to identify and block abusive or offensive messages. The use of real-time monitoring, customer self-reporting and in-depth data analysis has already helped to reduce the risk of misuse of payment text fields and has led to the protection of vulnerable members of the community.

Further information

For more information, please view the financial crime guides on the AUSTRAC website or download a copy of the Preventing misuse and criminal communication through payment text fields (PDF, 398KB).