Fraud Increasing Amid COVID-19

Adam Jacobson


September 1, 2020

In the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ benchmarking report Fraud in the Wake of COVID-19, a majority of the organization’s 1,851 members saw increasing fraud during the pandemic. Nearly 70% said that they had observed an increase since the virus surfaced, and 25% said the increase was significant. When asked how the pandemic was affecting specific types of fraud, more than 80% reported seeing an increase in cyber fraud, including business email compromise, hacking, ransomware and malware. Additionally, 68% saw an increase in vendor and seller fraud (such as price gouging, product misrepresentation and overbilling), 60% saw a rise in payment fraud (including credit card fraud and fraudulent mobile payments), 58% observed an increase in health care fraud, and 57% saw an uptick in identity theft.

Nearly 70% said the pandemic makes detecting fraud more challenging, and almost 75% said it makes fraud harder to investigate and prevent. When asked about their top limitations during the pandemic, respondents cited the inability to travel (38%), cancelled or postponed investigations (35%), and lack of access to evidence (32%). Looking ahead, survey respondents expect these trends will worsen—93% anticipated an increase in fraud over the next year, and 51% predicted the increase will be significant.

Adam Jacobson is associate editor of Risk Management.