Australia-based ANZ has unveiled its plans to invest in a new security capability to detect mule accounts that are being used to receive funds from scam victims and other criminal activities.

The mule detection capability, an extension to ANZ’s behavioural biometric technologies, uses AI and machine learning to identify money mules and mule accounts.

ANZ has completed a pilot of its mule detection technology in April this year, which identified nearly 1,400 high risk accounts.

Based on successful pilot, the company plans to implement the technology across its security systems by September 2023.

ANZ will deploy new and dedicated mule detection team, who will work alongside its 440 customer protection specialists, to support the new initiative.

ANZ customer protection head Shaq Johnson said: “Stopping mule accounts is a critical component of scam prevention and disrupting sophisticated criminal enterprises.”

“In identifying and blocking mule accounts, we effectively starve criminals of the resources they need to carry out the activity.

“By disrupting the infrastructure that supports scams, it becomes more difficult for these online criminals to operate and impact innocent individuals.”

According to the company, a money mule is a person or entity recruited by criminals to transfer illegally sourced money on their behalf.

Money mules receive funds into their bank accounts and are instructed to transfer the money to another financial institution, or transfer through alternatives, such as cryptocurrency.

ANZ said that the detection of mule accounts leads to disassembly of additional scam networks and prevents future scams.

It is continually reviewing and adjusting its capabilities to keep customers safe as new scams emerge and cyber criminals change how they operate, said the Australian lender.

Johnson added: “Mule accounts are often linked to larger criminal networks involved in organised crime, fraud and scams.

“Our new mule detection technology and the mule detection team will better enable us to identify these accounts, stop the illegal activity and gather valuable information about individuals or groups behind sophisticated scams.”

“There is a whole of community response needed to scam prevention, and while banks play a critical role, customers can also protect themselves by remaining alert to unsolicited contact and requests to move funds.”