Skip to main content Skip to main navigation
Skip to access and inclusion page Skip to search input

Foiled email hack saves customers $32,000

Susan Cusumano with Jason Ford from Westpac’s digital fraud operations team


11 March 2019


While building their dream holiday home in the NSW Southern Highlands, Susan and Rick Cusumano were targets of a sophisticated hack involving their builder’s email account. Westpac’s proactive intervention saved the Cusumano’s from losing $32,000.


For 33 years, Westpac has supported Susan and Rick Cusumano with all their financial needs, including for their business, V&V Landscapers.


“Running a busy company, service is everything. It’s what we measure ourselves on and it’s what we expect from others,” says Susan.


“It’s important that Westpac knows and understands us. Our relationship manager, Stella, is across all aspects of our finances – from our business arrangements to our personal insurances and I can pick up the phone anytime to talk to her. That means a lot.”


Building towards the dream


Susan and Rick have put in the hard yards and in the near future plan to step back from the day-to-day running of the business and transition towards retirement.


A small farm in the Southern Highlands is a big part of their retirement plan. However, while their new home was being built, the couple were victims of an email hack.


“I received an email from someone I thought was our builder, advising of an account change and an invoice for our next instalment of close to $32,000.”


Over the next few days Susan received three reminder emails.


“So I did what I was being asked to do and went online to update the account details and transfer the funds.”


That’s when Westpac’s digital fraud team saw a red flag.


We’ve got your back


Jason Ford is part of Westpac’s digital fraud operations team. Together with his colleagues, Jason helps protect customers from fraud and hacks, like the type Susan and Rick experienced.


An anomaly with the account details for Susan’s builder was picked up by Westpac’s fraud detection system. The team was alerted and within minutes of making the payment, Susan was contacted and instructed to verify the request with her builder.


As a precaution, the payment was halted and the funds reversed to Susan’s account. Susan phoned back later with the news that her builder hadn’t sent the emails.


“Helping to protect customers from fraud and hacks, in the way we did with Susan, is extremely satisfying,” says Jason. “My message is that you really can’t be too careful.”


“I was just so relieved that Westpac stepped in when they did,” says Susan. “It’s another dimension to the service. It’s a feeling that they’re really looking out for us. It’s nice to know that Westpac is more than our bank, they’ve got our back,” says Susan.