Meet Gemma Staite, Lead Threat Analyst, BioCatch

Gemma is a Lead Threat Analyst at BioCatch where she works closely with customers to maximise the value they get from their technology investments.  Gemma has spent 17 years working in fraud and financial crime roles within the UK banking sector.  Prior to joining BioCatch, she led a Fraud Analytics team specialising in Data Analytics for online banking fraud prevention and managed a number of fraud tools, including BioCatch.

BioCatch - Gemma Staite

After a few dates, a man persuades a woman to deposit several hundred thousand dollars to his account.

The reason for this is that he would be hounded by his enemies, and his credit cards would be blocked. The woman gives the man the desired sum and ends up with a pile of debt on her hands.

Is this a case you’ve heard about before? But it’s not just about The Tinder Swindler who cheated numerous women out of millions of dollars through a complex scheme. It’s a familiar story, and it can happen to anyone. They all had one thing in common: they were duped by the “Love-Scam” ruse. 

Shame, guilt, anger, grief, and fear are among the consequences for the victims, in addition to the significant financial loss. 

BioCatch‘s team leaders have made it their mission to battle social engineering and emotional manipulation schemes, as well as to assist banks and financial institutions in detecting this form of fraud early on. This is accomplished through the application of behavioural biometrics-based technology. 

In this piece we talk to Gemma about her role at BioCatch and how she’s helping to fight cybercrime.

Tell us a bit more about your work with BioCatch? 

As the Threat Analytics Lead for EMEA, my role focuses on bringing behavioural insights to life for our customers using our data. At BioCatch, we have pioneered the use of behavioural biometrics and with this vast amount of data. I focus on providing insights that show how behaviour is key to solving today’s fraud and financial crime. I maximise our fraud detection by working closely with our data science team to investigate new trends and provide innovative solutions to mitigate them. As a key customer facing role, I ensure that I have strong relationships with those who use our technology day to day and build trust by demonstrating how the technology is helping them solve their business problems as well as, the value that we can bring to them by reducing their fraud losses.

Programmes such as The Tinder Swindler have recently brought “Love-Scams” to the forefront of people’s minds – how is BioCatch helping to fight these fraudsters? 

Romance Scams are one of the trickiest scam types to detect. Fraudsters target vulnerable individuals and trick them into believing they are in a relationship. After building trust with the victim, the criminal will then convince their victim that they urgently need money for medical bills or a similar emergency and coerce the victim into transferring their life savings. Victims believe that they are sending money to their loved one for a genuine reason and as such may not behave differently as to how they would making any other transaction.

At BioCatch, we are tackling this problem by focusing on the criminal.

Behavioural biometrics is an innovative solution to detecting money mules (a person who transfers money acquired illegally on behalf of others), by identifying accounts being operated in a suspicious manner prior to the inbound payment from the victim. One way to stop the transfer of the victim’s funds is to shut down the money mule accounts before they can be used. BioCatch technology can also utilize mobile data including SIM and applications data to identify users who are highly likely to be criminals involved in Love-Scams, also known as Romance Scams. Targeting the criminals operating the mule accounts, it is possible to stop the fraudsters in their tracks and prevent them from being able to launder the money they receive from their unsuspecting victim.

Are there any trends that people can look out for/ be aware of?

Social engineering continues to dominate the fraud landscape in the UK with it becoming increasingly prevalent in other regions. Impersonation and investment scams are nothing new, but fraudsters are continually adapting to a world that is now predominantly Mobile. Mobile Remote Access Tools (RAT) are used by fraudsters either to guide victims through the process of making payments themselves (authorised push payment) or to allow them to control the victim’s device and takeover the account. Mobile Malware is an increasing trend which we started to see in 2021 and is expected to increase through 2022 and into 2023. Phishing & Smishing attacks are still persistent, allowing fraudsters to harvest the information they need to either socially engineer a victim or to allow them to take over the account often vishing or intercepting OTP’s.

There is an infamous gender gap in the technology sector, but 42% of BioTech’s senior positions are held by women – why do you think this is? 

As BioCatch has grown, we have focused on putting the right people in leadership roles who have the skills and awareness to point the company in the right direction, as well as strong company values. The statistic that women make up 42% of our senior leadership team is a clear indication of this.

There is a strong feeling of equality at BioCatch where women play a key role in the day-to-day operation of the company and its innovation and growth.

In Israel, where our R&D teams are located, there is a strong technology industry and spirit of entrepreneurship, and this helps significantly in increasing the awareness of technology roles which ultimately increases the number of women applying for roles such as those at BioCatch. BioCatch is building technology that betters the world by fighting fraud and stopping the bad guys. This mission is something that we can all rally behind including women.

What support can tech companies give to encourage more women into senior roles? 

The leadership within tech companies need to accept that there isn’t an equal split between men and woman today and embrace the diversity that comes with a variety of people across the workforce. It is important to promote and encourage young women through education to seek out opportunities that may lead them to technology and create more awareness of the variety of jobs available within tech. As we support the progression of women in technology, companies need to embrace the diversity that they bring to the table, by doing so we will see more women stay in tech and rise into leadership roles.