Tags Posts tagged with "Telecom Fraud"

Telecom Fraud

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“In school, we’re rewarded for having the answer, not for asking a good question”

This quote from Richard Saul Wurman rightly describes how a normal human mind, as part of it’s social development process, adapts to the guidelines of “finding the answers”, rather than exploring the possibilities of asking the “right questions”.

And this mindset also reflects in our place of work. We are humanly tailored to explore satisfaction in having answers to all the questions. And in the process of being ‘answer ready’, we tend to become left brain heavy than the right. We become target driven and focus less and less on fresh set of questions which could challenge us further to drive improvement and innovation.

Fraud Management ‘function’ is no different. Being a ‘revenue protection’ function in a large ‘organization’ it is expected to act similar to a small, but important organ in human body.
Like hormone levels of an organ, health of an FM function is also measured in terms of subjective financial targets – either monthly, quarterly or yearly. And the corrective action starts when the achievements are found to be ‘less than optimum’.

But, as an experienced doctor would say – It’s the lifestyle you need to keep in check and not hormone levels to remain healthy!
Constant self-assessing questions such as – “Am I eating right ?”, “Am I sleeping right ?”, “Am I sitting right ?”, “Am I exercising right ?” etc. go a long way in guaranteeing you a healthy life. Periodic check-ups then becomes a method to confirm your good health rather than just means to detect illness or deficiencies.

Keeping healthy is a continuous process – be it human body or fraud management. It is actually a practice, than just a function.
And to setup a continuously improving fraud practice in your organization it is essential to keep asking relevant & timely questions across the following 8 pillars of this practice:

  • Influence
  • Organization
  • People
  • Process
  • Tools
  • Knowledge Management
  • Coverage
  • Continuous Improvement

While the questions could be an organization, risk or region specific, I personally always start with the following:

Influence:

  • Is our FM function on a driver seat or secondary role and working as a support function ?
  • How should we enhance the influence of our FM function ?
  • How do we keep showcasing enhanced value from FM function ?
  • How do we extend our internal & external interfacing and make the existing interfacing stronger ?

Organization:

  • How do we ensure fraud awareness keeps pace with the upgrading business dynamics ?
  • How do we enhance internal & external collaboration with FM function ?
  • How do we get higher return of investment from FM function ?
  • How to further reduce the fraud impact on the bottom line ?
  • How to make our fraud management practice more proactive ?

People:

  • Is resource acquisition better or resource development ?
  • How do we safeguard ourselves from attrition ?
  • Is our team structure agile enough while following industry standards ?
  • Do we have all the required roles and are the responsibilities clearly defined ?
  • Are we right, under or over staffed ?

Process:

  • Are my processes effective and easily exercisable ?
  • Are my processes future ready ?
  • Are my processes agile enough to adapt to any changes with acceptable TAT ?
  • Are we adopting and implementing industry best practices ?
  • What parts of my processes can be automated ?

Tools:

  • Is the Fraud Management tool adapted to my business environment ?
  • How do I ensure that the FM tool is fed accurate, complete and timely data ?
  • Are my fraud controls effective & efficient ? How do I reduce false positives ?
  • How do I ensure 100% automated fraud risk coverage ?
  • What capabilities do we need to acquire on tool front to be future ready ?
  • Are we ready against enormous data surge likely to be seen over next few years ? How do we benefit from it ?
  • Are we constantly learning from the industry in terms of fraud detection & prevention methods ?

Knowledge Management:

  • Is there sufficient attention on upgrading to the required skill sets ?
  • How do we enhance resource competency & knowledge against current & future services ?
  • Is our team keeping pace with constant fraud mutations ?
  • Is our team using the tools effectively & efficiently ?
  • Is our team knowledgeable and comfortable with processes ?
  • What are the top 5 areas of learning for the whole fraud function ?

Coverage:

  • Are we aware of all the fraud risks we are exposed to ? What is our current coverage levels ?
  • Do we know the gaps in terms of fraud risks coverage ? How can we improve ?
  • What is our strategy to become compliant to fraud risks introduced by new products and services ?
  • Are we ready for fast converging cross industry environment and the risks it introduces ?
  • What is our stand on customer and partner only risks ? How relevant they are for our business ? Is our current stand obsolete ?

Continuous Improvement:

  • What is our performance management strategy ?
  • Do we have effective KPIs ? Are these business relevant ?
  • How can we improve the fraud function’s effectiveness & maturity continuously ?
  • What metrics should I use to measure health of the overall FM function ?
  • Are we conducting sufficient & periodic RCA & decision analysis ?
  • How do we gather accumulated wisdom & actionable intelligence for improvement ?

Each of these questions can be a healthy point of discussion within your organization.
While these may give you a first hand view of health of your current fraud practice, more importantly, it may also open doors for a much detailed open table introspective sessions, enabling you to come up with much better & effective questions.

Remember, the key to remain healthy is to keep asking the ‘right’ questions.

As Albert Einstein rightly said – “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”

People of a certain “vintage” will remember well the speech by former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld when questioned on the lack of evidence linking the Iraqi government with the supply of chemical weapons to terrorists. For many of us it took a second hearing to fully appreciate the difference between our “known knowns” and our “known unknowns”, and if you are anything like me then the concept of ‘unknown unknowns’ – well that took a little bit longer!

The speech has been the source of much discussion through the years and the basic principle has been applied to many situations and domains, including Fraud Management.  However, one of the most interesting parts of the speech has largely been overlooked in all of the focus on the “knowns” and “unknowns”. In responding to the question Rumsfeld’s first sentence was;
“Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me”.

Fraud management, as with most other operational functions, is largely focused on something happening, whether that is in relation to configuring rules in the Fraud Management System or in working out the effectiveness of your business function (people &  process). The emergence of certain fraud types through the years has started us on the track of reaping the benefits from looking at things that have not happened as a detection method but for many organizations the principle has not been fully embraced.

Most organizations are now looking into more detailed analytics, but within these analytics programs, how much emphasis is put on things that didn’t happen?  Additionally, in a dynamic environment such as Telecoms Fraud Management even what we “think” we know (“known knowns”) may be rapidly out-dated or superseded.

In the “Big Data” era things are likely to be even more challenging for Fraud Professionals as the haystack just got a lot bigger, so even trying to keep on top of what we think we know is going to be a challenge. To start trying to uncover our “Known Unknowns” and “Unknown unknowns”,  – that will take INSIGHT.

To get more information about Subex Insight please click here.

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The Fraud Triangle

More money has been stolen at the tip of a pen than at point of a gun. It is the people behind the pen who committed the fraud than the pen itself. Hence for those who are fighting fraud, it is worth spending time in understanding why people are committing it.

Everyone who has exposure to fraud is very well aware of the Cressey’s hypothesis on why people commit fraud – Perceived opportunity, Pressure and Rationalization. These three attributes over the years make up what is widely known as Fraud Triangle.

However; critics have often cited that fraud triangle, being from fraudster’s perspective, has defined two attributes (pressure and rationalization) that are generally non observable. Thus it fails to explain why fraud was committed when perpetrator have traits of pathological fraudsters. This shortcoming can be overcome by taking fraudsters assessment of capability in to account. Not only does the fraudster have environmental or situational factors for committing fraud but also they must have the necessary abilities and traits to recognize and make it a reality. Everyone may not have this capability in a given situation. Many of the traits that make an individual capable of committing fraud can be derived from the individual’s personality itself.

The Fraud Diamond
Source: Wolf & Hermanson

The personality traits that makes a personal capable of committing fraud can be attributed to his position or function in the organization, his level of intelligence, his arrogance, persuasive & deceptive nature, and Immunity to stress.  The fraudster’s specific position or function within the organization along with his ability to recognize and exploit the weakness of internal controls allows him to visualize opportunities that are otherwise unnoticed. The fraudster’s egoistic nature often makes him believe that he is beyond the surveillance of checks and balances. The fraudster often will be able to persuade others to commit fraud or at bare minimum to turn a blind-eye. The fraudster will be good in concealing his inner stress and often lie convincingly in order to maintain a consistent story.

Thus capability provides with more measurable traits for detecting possible frauds. Therefore it is important that assessing capability and addressing them at early stage are made as part of the fraud fighting charter for organizations.

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Subex, in collaboration with Capacity magazine, had conducted a survey on Wholesale Fraud Management which was responded by 195 diverse participants from the wholesale industry including senior executives, fraud practitioners and experts from some of the world’s largest carriers.

Survey participants’ regional distribution can be seen in the map below:

Participants’ profile in terms of revenue can be seen in the chart below:

The results which were published on 13-Mar-2013 turned out to be quite staggering and an eye opener!

The survey has revealed that carriers lose around 3.6% of their revenue to fraud, which if the Wholesale Carrier market is estimated to be around $ 170 Billion, translates to monetary figure of $6.12 billion per year!

Considering there is a tremendous pressure on wholesale carriers due to increased competition leading to price wars and eroded margins, losses of such high magnitude create a substantial impact on their bottom line.

The problem doesn’t end here. Majority of the participants (82%) have also agreed that the menace of fraud has been on the rise over the recent years and continues to grow!  Clearly, the impacts are going to be higher with time if carriers do not up their ante against fraud now.

The report also touches and provides interesting findings over the following areas:

  • Size of the problem including prevalent fraud types in the industry currently
  • What factors are fueling the fraud growth
  • Direct and indirect impacts of fraud on carriers
  • Readiness of the carriers in combating and containing frauds
Being a global provider of Fraud Management solutions & services and leveraging on it’s domain expertise, Subex has also provided its views and opinions over the findings which can help carriers in understand this complex and constantly increasing problem of fraud better and take appropriate measures in order to protect themselves.

You can get hold of your own copy of this interesting report here.

Happy reading!

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KARIBU !!!

‘ M-Pesa’  has been leading the revolution of mobile wallets across the globe. Over 50% of the adult population in Kenya today use M-Pesa service to send money to far-flung relatives, to pay for shopping, utility bills or taxi ride home. While East Africa has been dominating the numbers in the past few years other regions including APAC, EMEA, Europe and Americas are about to explode sooner or later with their own models – NFC, Google Wallets, Mwallets, Apple Passbook,etc

More operators are walking down the path of offering Mobile Banking services in some form or the other every year. These players might get caught off-guard & face what a leading operator in Uganda recent got  hit with– a million dollar mobile money fraud loss !! News articles indicate that a recent internal fraud in a leading operator in Uganda lead to 3.5 Million Dollar loss, Mobile Money boss losing his job & 8 other employees getting fired. Operator also received reprimands from the regulator and had significant dent to its brand image. This mess also opened up competition for other players in the country.  Regaining confidence of customers and regulators will not be an easy job for such operators. They will be looking to enhance security within their mobile money offerings.  It might be a differentiator and lead to uplift in adoption.

This incedence clearly presents a learning for other operators about to offer Mobile Money services. Moving forward, one of the key areas of focus for operators will be to provide a secure mobile money platform to users and manage frauds beyond the traditional regulatory requirements. Below infographic highlights some variants of Mobile Money frauds already rampant within operations and potential damage they might cause.

Mobile Money Risks – Infographic

Kindly follow the link for more information.

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