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Fraud Trends for 2020: Watch Out for These Emerging Risks

As technology advances, fraud schemes take advantage of our constant connectedness.

Posted by Ann Snook on April 30th, 2020

In its latest Report to the Nations, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that the median loss for occupational fraud was $130,000. Unfortunately, the majority of victims recovered none of that money.

While any organization can fall victim to fraud, preparation and precaution can reduce your risk. One key part of this is keeping up with the latest fraud schemes.

We asked experts what fraud trends they think are emerging in 2020. Take preventive measures agains this year’s top schemes to protect your company’s finances and reputation.


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COVID-19 Frauds


New and increasing fraud schemes have emerged as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fraudsters are capitalizing on fear, as well as medical and financial need, to make a profit. Some examples of emerging schemes include:

  • Selling fake protective equipment or medicines
  • Selling fraudulent lists of infected people in the neighborhood
  • Posing as cleaners who will eradicate the virus from a home or coronavirus testers, then robbing the victim
  • Charging fake disinfecting fees (often done by towing companies or auto shops)
  • Opening or advertising fake healthcare facilities


Some fraudsters are taking their schemes online. For example, “phishing scams and fraudulent websites pop up touting downloadable informative resources that are actually malicious,” says Nathan Little, Vice President of Digital Forensics & Incident Response at Tetra Defense.

“Some phishing campaigns are focusing on operational topics that are likely to be opened and clicked by concerned employees – changes to on-site versus remote work environments, emergency contacts, etc.” he explains.  “Phishing emails may have malicious attachments that pose as informative documents for employees when in reality they are executing malicious activity in the background.”

With the economy shut down and many people out of work, opportunistic insurance fraud is also on the rise. Experts from the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud say that as it gets harder to pay the bills, policy holders are turning to staged auto accidents and fraudulent property damage claims to compensate.


RELATED: COVID-19 Insurance Fraud: 5 Things You Need to Know


Phishing Websites


Another one of 2020’s biggest fraud trends is the rise of phishing websites. These sites pose as legitimate websites in order to lure victims into sharing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, user name and password and/or banking information.

Often these websites are sophisticated and are hard to distinguish from real ones. They use a legitimate company’s logos, color scheme and layout to fool victims. Phishing websites often pose as services that handle users’ personal information, such as banks, healthcare services, social media and cable companies, in order to get the easiest access to data.

“Thanks to an overwhelming amount of data we share about ourselves, it’s easier than ever to create pages that are almost identical to actual websites we use every day, so we are lured to share our personal data,” says Adam Hempenstall, founder and CEO of Better Proposals.

How do victims land on phishing websites in the first place?

Often, they follow a link in a phishing email that looks like it’s from a legitimate sender (such as their doctor or a representative from their bank). Other phishing sites have URLs that are one letter different from a real website, relying on victims to make a typing error and land on their site.


Card Not Present (CNP) Fraud


By 2023, it’s estimated that businesses will lose $130 billion to card not present (CNP) fraud. As online shopping technology evolves to become more convenient for customers, fraud risk also increases.

According to Investopedia, “card-not-present fraud is a type of credit card scam in which the customer does not physically present the card to the merchant during the fraudulent transaction. Card-not-present fraud can occur with transactions that are conducted online or over the phone.”

In CNP transactions, the merchant doesn’t see a physical credit card, making it more difficult to detect if they’re fraudulent. There’s no way to validate the identity of the user or see if the card has been altered.

Why is CNP one of 2020’s fraud trends?

First, mobile and e-commerce are booming, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even when shoppers do go into a physical location and perform a transaction, many use online payment options such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or store-specific apps.

In addition, there are “in-store transaction protections like EMV [chip cards] that are forcing criminals to look elsewhere to commit fraud.” Fraudsters want the biggest possible payout for the least work, so they’re turning their attention to the easier target, CNP transactions.


RELATED: 11 Cybersecurity Threats for 2020 (Plus 5 Solutions)


Voice-Activated Banking Fraud


Voice-activated banking has many benefits. Users can do all of their regular banking activities anytime, anywhere, without having to type anything or make a call. Being able to simply talk at a smart phone or digital assistant for banking needs saves time and a trip to a branch.

This innovation also makes banking more inclusive and accessible to those with geographical or physical limitations. Some interfaces even allow two-way interaction, so users can discuss financial matters the same way they would with a customer service representative, but in the privacy of their own home.

However, like every new technology, it comes with risk.

“Financial criminals might be the unintentional winners in the race to create exceptional customer experiences,” says Andy Renshaw, Vice President of Banking Solutions at Feedzai. “While the convenience of these new channels is obvious . . . these services remain relatively weak with known loopholes.”

If a criminal obtains voice recordings of a user, they can easily use technology to emulate the person’s voice to command their digital assistant. They can also issue “silent” commands embedded in videos or apps that go undetected by humans but not by artificial intelligence.

As a result, fraudsters can not only access bank account and credit card information, but also transfer funds or make purchases that appear legitimate.


2020 Fraud Trends


This year, fraudsters are taking advantage of advances in technology as well as a worldwide lifestyle change when designing their schemes. Understanding each of these fraud schemes and how they relate to your industry is the first step towards prevention.

Ann Snook
Ann Snook

Marketing Writer

Ann is a marketing writer at i-Sight Software. She writes about issues related to investigations of fraud, employee misconduct, corporate security, Title IX, ethics & compliance and more.

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