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online fraud

Examples of Online and Mobile Fraud

Phishing and Spoofing

Phishing and spoofing are two common examples of online fraud. Both involve a deceptive attempt to gain your personal information.

For instance, some criminals might send you an email that looks as if it has come from Great Western Bank, encouraging you to go to a website or call a phone number and provide account numbers, passwords, etc. They will often go to great lengths to make the fake website look authentic. But here’s what you should be aware of to protect yourself:

  • Asking for personal information is a red flag. Period. Great Western Bank will NEVER ask for any personal information in an email. We already have your Social Security number, debit card PIN, and other key numbers. The criminals don’t.
  • Similarly, don’t pay attention to urgent appeals claiming your account is about to be closed if you fail to confirm or verify your personal information. We will never ask you for this type of information in that way.
  • Sometimes the scammers will claim that the bank is updating its security system and that you need to re-input your personal information. Again, any email that makes such a claim is NOT from Great Western Bank.
  • Offers that sound too good to be true usually are. For instance, you may be asked to fill out a short customer service survey in exchange for money being credited to your account—and then to provide your account number to make sure the money gets deposited properly. You will never get such a request from Great Western Bank.
  • Typos and other errors are often the mark of fraudulent emails or websites. Be on the lookout for typos, grammatical errors, awkward writing, and poor visual design.

To protect against phishing and spoofing:

  • Make sure you are at the Great Western ebanking login page when you sign in to Great Western ebanking online. You can do so by typing in your browser. If you’re using a secure browser, it will turn your address bar green.
  • If you receive a suspicious email, do not click on any links or reply to it. Simply delete it. If it claims to be from Great Western Bank, please use the Contact Us form to alert us of the email.

Money Mules

Money mules are unsuspecting victims who become middlemen for criminals trying to launder stolen funds anonymously. Victims are lured by the promise of a new career opportunity making large sums of money for minimal work. Criminals recruit ordinary people as their money mules, send them stolen money, and ask the victims to wire or transfer the money to the criminals—sometimes leaving the victim a “commission” for helping with the transaction.

The victims of these scams may not only have their bank accounts closed and financial reputation ruined, but are often left financially responsible for returning the stolen funds.

Common signs of a money mule scam:

  • Overseas companies requesting money transfer agents in the U.S..
  • Opening new bank accounts to receive money from someone you don’t know.
  • Accepting large sums of money into your personal bank account for a new job.
  • Transferring or wiring funds out of your personal bank account to people you don’t know.


Short for “malicious software,” the term malware includes viruses, spyware, and trojans designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system, steal personal information, and commit fraud. There are a number of easy ways to minimize the risk of being a malware victim:

  • Be aware that downloads from file-sharing and social networking sites can be a major source of malware.
  • Don’t open or install attachments or free software from unknown sources.
  • Beware of any pop-up ads asking for personal or financial information.
  • Update your security and system software.


Vishing is done over Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP). The scammer leaves an automated recording, informing consumers that their accounts have experienced unusual activity and instructing them to call a phone number that turns out to be fake. Just as in phishing and spoofing, the criminals are looking for account numbers and PINs.

If you receive such a recording, do not call the number given. Instead, call Great Western Bank at our customer service number, 1-800-952-2043.