• Fraud Typologies

    Paralleling The Covid-19 Pandemic

Article:

Fraud Typologies - Paralleling The Covid-19 Pandemic

11 May 2021

How fraudsters are using COVID-19 policy announcements to target your business

Following the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic on 11 March 2020, governments scrambled to protect their citizens from the potential fallout that COVID-19 could bring in its wake. The UK government implemented several of rapid and complex policy changes. These policies are covered in the press and published on the UK government website for the public to study and digest.

People and businesses alike struggled to manage complying with the numerous new COVID-19 policies, including three national lockdowns. We all experienced huge, and usually unwelcome, changes to our lives both at home and at work. However, these unprecedented changes have created huge opportunities for fraudsters that will have had them rubbing their hands together with delight.

You have probably experienced some of these opportunistic behaviours. A call from scammers claiming to be HMRC officials following up unpaid taxes and threatening to send bailiffs, a call supposedly from a well-known online retailer about failed payments and threatening to cut off services or an offer to help unclaimed government support.

We ask whether there is a relationship between the announcement of government policies and social measures related to COVID-19 and how fraudsters select and approach their targets. We will look at how fraudsters identify their targets and opportunities and whether it is possible to forecast or predict fraud. The key data we examine is the National Crime Agency’s Suspicious Activity Reports data and how they relate to government announcements and policy changes. 

Finally, we explore how different types of fraud such as personal protection equipment (PPE) fraud, money laundering, government support programs fraud, investment fraud, private sector frauds and fraud against individuals have emerged or re-emerged since the COVID-19 policy announcements. The final section of this report offers guidance on how those responsible for tackling fraud can better prepare for and prevent fraud against their businesses. This report has been prepared by our forensic Senior Manager, Karen Edwards, using her academic and professional knowledge. It is an example of how we use that expertise to help our clients protect themselves and their businesses from fraud and other financial crimes.

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