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The Financial Fraud Epidemic

ABA Risk and Compliance

As the COVID-19 pandemic swelled in the past year, forcing millions of Americans to stay locked down, work from home, and often lose their jobs, financial fraudsters have found a fertile playground, working their ploys against both banks and their desperate, isolated customers.

According to financial institutions and federal agencies, since COVID-19 began, fraud attempts have as much as tripled, with a wide variety of new scams emerging that prey on those who have been financially been hit hard by the pandemic and subsequent closures and shutdowns, people who have become isolated, as well as good Samaritans who want to be helpful to those in crisis. Indeed, the pandemic has provided a greenfield opportunity for cyber criminals, who are playing to bank customers’ concerns about job loss, financial health and community safety.

Kathleen Darroch, SVP and security business partner manager for PNC Bank, says much of the fraud perpetrated in the past year has been related to “stimulus packages, unemployment [payments], scammers texting or emailing [with the promise of receiving]a payment sooner.” All of these changes are forcing bank employees (and customers) to “adjust” during this pandemic, she adds. Elderly customers, more apt to suffer in the face of this virus and typically more isolated from other people, are being targeted by cyber criminals, says Darroch.


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