ACFCS Member Spotlight: For Bottomline’s Dalit Amitai, fighting fraud, bolstering compliance defenses is an ‘all in’ effort to better harness technology, empower teams, thwart creative criminals

The Skinny:

  • Dalit Amitai knows that criminals, whether they are cyber hackers, fraudsters or money launderers, are infinitely creative – always looking for a way to breach systems, steal from customers or cleanse sullied funds through an institution.
  • The reason she is so well-versed: she has devoted nearly 30 years of her career to developing and implementing systems to stop them – first in IT and later in the areas of fraud and, more broadly, financial crimes risk management. That experience propelled Amitai to her current position as the VP of Global Operations and Services, Fraud and Financial Crime at Bottomline Technologies.
  • Fraud is an area she feels where she can be “all in” and make the most of a diverse skillset, shepherding institution technology upgrades from start to finish, from idea to implementation, testing to tuning and finally, release – better detecting and preventing fraudsters from hurting a bank or its clients. 

By Brian Monroe
bmonroe@acfcs.org
September 9, 2022 

Dalit Amitai knows that criminals, whether they are cyber hackers, fraudsters or money launderers, are infinitely creative – always looking for a way to breach systems, steal from customers or cleanse sullied funds through an institution.

The reason she is so well-versed in their schemes and scams: she has devoted nearly 30 years of her career to stopping them. 

Amitai commands a deep well of expertise in banking, technology and systems engineering, development and implementation. 

While she started her career first in IT, architecting enterprise solutions, she has expanded into the areas of fraud and, more broadly, financial crimes compliance and risk management – an in-demand background as more scams have become cyber-enabled and paid in crypto coins. 

That experience propelled Amitai to her current position as the VP of Global Operations and Services, Fraud and Financial Crime at Bottomline Technologies.

The company, headquartered in Portsmouth, NH, offers advanced fraud detection, behavioral analytics and regulatory compliance solutions.

The company, with offices across the U.S., Europe, and Asia-Pacific, also provides corporations and banks an array of systems and technology to engage in domestic and international payments, efficient cash management, automated workflows for payment processing and bill review.

In recent years, fraud – the spiritual sister of the anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program – has surged for a bevy of reasons.

With rampant identity theft and fraudsters adapting to pandemic challenges, it has become even more critical for financial institutions to better detect and stop fraud, to better protect their customers and themselves.

Such a stratagem is also and be more in line with recently-released national fincrime compliance priorities from the U.S. Treasury.

The priorities released last year by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) include many of the top tactics organized criminal groups, fraud syndicates and cyber-enabled scammers generated illicit finance.

The widely-watched and highly anticipated AML priorities are the first concrete update to implement the U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) – the most significant upgrade to the country’s fincrime framework since the 2001 U.S.A. Patriot Act.

FinCEN’s stated AML priorities are:

  • corruption;
  • cybercrime, including relevant cybersecurity and virtual currency considerations;
  • foreign and domestic terrorist financing;
  • fraud;
  • transnational criminal organization activity;
  • drug trafficking organization activity;
  • human trafficking and human smuggling; and
  • proliferation financing

Apart from fraud being a standout priority for the U.S. government, schemes have been soaring for many reasons, in part fueled by the fear, loneliness and anxiety of living through two years of a global pandemic.

Criminals in that time have become more adept at using love as a weapon in romance scams.

They have played on the financial desperation, or greed and avarice, in the human heart with foreign lottery schemes.

Massive hacks against companies and governments around the world have made it easier than ever for criminals to dig up this digital identity heap and create clones they control.

Banks have also had to retool and retrain their AML and fraud teams to better understand and more quickly realize the interconnection between certain fraudulent activities and, later, money laundering. 

For instance, in far too many romance, lottery or other related scams, once the person has their bank account emptied, the fraudsters then further victimize the person by turning them into a money mule. 

That is one of the important lessons Amitai has learned and is a secret to her success: Even in the biggest software project, it isn’t all just about technology – it’s about people.

In every project, there are stakeholders, in the bank, facing pressure from bank examiners to be more effective and results-oriented and there are also real people, bank customers, who could be victimized by fraudsters.

“Accept that there is a life on the project and that customer engagements are a journey,” she said. “Always be a good listener and be respectful of everybody that you work with. Be humble in every situation.”

No one knows everything and everyone can change and grow, at any stage of their career.

That philosophy is what fueled Amitai’s desire to jump into the fraud space.

It is an area she feels where she can be “all in” and make the most of a diverse skillset, shepherding institution technology upgrades from start to finish, from idea to implementation, testing to tuning and finally, release – better detecting and preventing fraudsters from hurting a bank or its clients.

The need for banks to banks to upgrade their AML and fraud fighting systems to more advanced technologies – including things like artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning – has coincided with a stronger focus on data analysis and data even moving to cloud storage.

This means, maybe more than ever before, the software and systems banks use have turned from a one-and-done exercise to software-as-service, meaning these technology companies are more partners than simply sellers.

“The transition to the cloud made the industry switch from selling software as a vendor to providing software as a service, including code progression, model validation, security and audit certifications,” Amitai said.

Even so, while she has built a reputation on attention to details in complex systems implementations, Amitai can also pull back and see the big picture, feeding her passion purpose feedback loop.

 – “It’s fulfilling to know that we can help protect our customers from bad actors: ‘We stop the bad guys,'” she said. –

Amitai was kind enough to share some of her knowledge and skills in our latest ACFCS Member Spotlight: 

Who or what inspires you?

The ‘Win – win’ situation, where I am fulfilling the potential of everyone that I work with.  I think of customers as partners and I like to empower those who work with me on every aspect of projects related to upgrading software and new technology implementation. 

My passion is to give people every opportunity to fulfill every chance they have to improve results in financial crime compliance programs.

For customers, that means I need to be a good listener to understand all their needs. My goal: I want them to be successful in their organization by working with us.

What is one thing - industry-related or not - that you learned in the past month?

Credit Bureaus are enhancing their identity assets and combining them with digital analytics capacities to enhance their position as global information companies.

We are excited at Bottomline to take part in this journey with the bureaus. Data capture, accuracy and analysis are at the heart of the modern fincrime compliance program.  

What is something about you that not many people know?

I was an officer in the Israeli Army unit for intelligence forces (part of the Israeli Defense Force) and I met my husband there studying computer science.

What do you do in your current role

I manage all aspects globally for Fraud and Financial Crime customers from the moment an organization becomes our customer.

That includes onboarding, professional services, development and operations (dev/ops) responsibilities, customer support and customer success.

What does your career trajectory in financial crime look like?

Because I’ve been exposed to all aspects of creating systems and technology to fight financial crime – including AML, fraud and cybersecurity – I enjoy them.

As a result, I’m open to working with financial institutions to improve different types of fincrime operations.

I started in IT and grew into the business function of fincrime. I find it interesting and consider it a professional growth opportunity for myself.

I’ve worked for software companies and also been on the other side as a customer in Banks including Morgan Stanley. That experience helps me to understand how our customers feel and operate when working with Bottomline as I’ve experienced it myself.

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Always be a good listener and be respectful of everybody that you work with. Be humble in every situation.

“In a world where you can be anything, be yourself.” (Einstein)

What is the worst advice you have ever received?

“Do not work with friends” is the worst advice I have ever gotten. I think that the opposite is right.

Working with friends who are strong professionally, are good communicators and are emotionally capable will help you fulfill your potential and make the daily work experience productive and fun.  

What would you say are the most important attributes for someone in your position to succeed?

Accept that there is a life on the project and that customer engagements are a journey.

Listening and understanding how the solution we are selling fits into the bigger ecosystem of the customer. 

How has (compliance, investigations, etc.) changed and evolved during your career?

I’ve moved from technology to the business aspect working with customers. 

The transition to the cloud made the industry switch from selling software as a vendor to providing software as a service, including code progression, model validation, security and audit certifications.

Our company has also adjusted and grown as Bottomline offers a certified vendor cloud solution.

What do you see as the key financial crime challenges in your role or in the sector overall?

Financial crime compliance is a fast-paced environment and industry. There is also a modernization of payments (ISO20022, real-time payments, FedNow, faster payments) and a move to the cloud.

All of these challenges need to be addressed in a holistic and timely manner.

What motivated you to become a financial crime professional?

It’s fulfilling to know that we can help protect our customers from bad actors: “We stop the bad guys.”

Is there anything that surprised you in your current role?

How many more layers of fraud prevention and detection that risk organizations can add and get value from and return on investment (ROI) than what they currently have today.

Also, how combining insider fraud solutions can help to fight financial crime for organizations.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Knowing that we stopped fraud for customers.

We provide quality solutions to our customers while orchestrating a large global group of cross functional colleagues, while we all have fun at it. 

How did you get your first job in the field and what advice what you give other job seekers to land their first position in compliance?

Early in my career, I was working in enterprise technology and desired a change.

I networked with a former colleague and learned about the fraud space. I found it fascinating.

I also saw the connection of how I could bring my knowledge to this space to help assist the company evolve and grow its fraud prevention for banks’ business operations.

For professionals with 5-10 years of experience, what advice would you give them to help advance to senior management roles?

Be serendipitous.

Remember that they can make a career change when they feel that they are not ‘all in’ on their current position and trust their capabilities.

Understand that they can grow and learn and expand into different areas.