According to the FTC, COVID-related fraud has cost Americans more than $382 million. Schemes include stealing stimulus payments, fraudulent unemployment applications, fake remedies for COVID-19, and non-existent charities. Median losses are around $330 per person, but seniors have been especially vulnerable, with losses around $900 for people in their 80s. Identity theft related to unemployment benefits has also been rampant. The total amount lost is likely higher as the figures from the FTC only include fraud that has been reported to the FTC. To find out more about COVID fraud, including how to report it, visit the U.S. Justice Department fraud page.
Fraud is also impacting businesses. A report from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) found that 79% of anti-fraud professionals were seeing an increase in fraud for November 2020 compared to the previous November. Remote work and layoffs make it both harder to prevent fraud and harder to detect fraud. The average fraud takes 14 months to uncover, so there may be yet more losses due to fraud. The presence of all elements of the fraud triangle – financial pressure, opportunity, and rationalization – increases the likelihood of fraud.