Balint Patkos, Head of Customer Success at SEON, dropped by to chat with us about his previous experience as a risk manager.
At SEON, we’ve always put a special focus on speaking a common language with fraud fighters. Our customer success team is mostly made of former risk managers, who know and understand the various challenges of the department.
Our recently promoted Head of Customer Success, Balint Patkos, for instance, has a long and impressive career as a fraud manager for a high-risk company (which will remain unnamed for privacy reasons).
Here’s what he wanted to share with new fraud managers.
You Sometimes Have to Trust your Guts
It’s not the first time we hear a similar opinion on our podcast. Most fraud managers have exceptional analytical skills, and they sometimes develop something akin to a sixth sense for fraud. This is perfectly exemplified in this story Balint told us:
“I remember when I was still a junior fraud analyst, I saw a transaction and there was nothing weird at all. And then I remembered… wait a second. I’ve seen those 6 numbers somewhere already. And I started searching, I looked into the database and I found a transaction four months ago that was processed by me as well. And it turns out it was the same guy. And that was his lucky number, that he used in all his accounts.”
This allowed Balint to take down a perfect example of multi-accounting attempts.
“So just being able to notice patterns and getting a feel for a transaction, not by hard or strict rules or parameters… You can look at something and already know if it’s going to be good or bad. And when you’re processing huge numbers (of transactions) it’s the only way of surviving.“
Remember to Connect With Other Departments
A fraud manager’s Achilles heel? According to Balint, it can be the feeling that you have complete control of the situation by yourself.
“Due to my overconfidence, I didn’t find it important enough to connect with other teams. But customer service or customer success, they actually interact with these customers and might have already had a conversation with this specific user when they log in anonymously to the chat service.”
In our interview, he expresses regret that he didn’t connect more with other departments to get a better overview of fraud and risk.
“Interacting with other services at the company is probably the most important thing I learned during these few years. You have to know what’s happening at every level of the company.”
On Successfully Growing a Fraud Team
Balint saw his fraud team grow exponentially and needed to understand what worked and what didn’t within the team dynamics.
“The most important thing for me is diversification of your fraud team, both in regards to age, or ways of thinking. I worked with a guy in my team, he was Russian, that was his native tongue. And there are many studies that show how people think differently when they have different native tongues. This is something I found interesting: he just saw a chat, and usually, we would just put the text into Google translate and look at the results. But as a native speaker, he got a much better feel of how things were going. Not just with the written text, but with the way of thinking actually.”
But of course, it’s also important to work with a variety of talent.
“It’s good to scale a team where all things remain in balance. Because some people prefer deeper investigation, really tough-to-crack cases. Some people like to push out a bunch of cases in a short period of time. Diversification and balance are probably what I recommend in a fraud team or customer success team too.”
Staying On Top of the Latest Fraud Techniques
Another important tip: keeping your finger on the pulse of the fraud world.
“We interact with so many industries that we’re aware of what happens in the high-risk space. Of course, there is the traditional way of reading articles – the best ones are from SEON of course! – but read online forums, try to get into weird Telegram chats, that’s always a fun one where they (fraudsters) share their internal secrets.”
In short, you don’t just have to catch fraudsters. You also have to think like them.
“It helps if you start thinking like a fraudster, because of course the info they share, it’s not gonna be on the Wall Street Journal, it’s gonna be on a weird Reddit forum or a darknet thread somewhere. That’s why I had to throw out three laptops already…”
How to Spot a Great Fraud Manager
Balint now regularly has to hire new team members. Of course, CVs and experience are useful, but his real Litmus test comes with actual data:
“What I like doing is: I actually put together a little list of weird users and transactions. None of them is real, of course, but I imagine some of them to be fraudulent and some not. I give every interviewee this sheet. When I see their faces and they immediately turn into a hunting dog, a hound, then I know: okay, that’s the person I’m looking for.”
Key Takeaways – No Fraud Manager Playbook, But We Can Learn
Balint repeatedly points out that there is no straight career path that leads anyone to become a fraud manager.
This can make it challenging to know who to turn to for advice or to feel heard when venting about your daily challenges. It’s precisely why SEON keeps sharing knowledge with the risk community, such as this podcast episode. We hope you’ll find it useful in your own fraud-fighting journey.
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Jimmy is the CCO of SEON and brings his in-depth experience of fraud-fighting to assist fraud teams everywhere.