Digital Fraud Up, but Targets Have Changed

  • The financial services industry is no longer the primary target for cyber-fraudsters, according to a new report analyzing global digital fraud in the second quarter of 2021.

    Researchers from global information and insights company TransUnion found that threat actors seeking to profit from online fraud are now focused on attacking the gaming and travel and leisure industries.

    Senior director of customer success, global fraud solutions at TransUnion, Melissa Gaddis, theorized that a change in the public’s spending patterns following lockdown easing may have triggered the switch.

    She said, “People are spending more, which gives fraudsters an opportunity to take advantage.”

    In the United States, suspected online fraud attempts in Q2 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 grew slightly more than the overall global average. While US cyber-fraud attempts increased by 17.1%, the global increase was 16.5%.

    Sharp spikes consisting of triple-figure percentages were observed in the industries that have become fraudsters’ new primary targets. In the United States, cyber-fraud in the gaming industry grew by 261.9%. Globally, the figure was even higher at 393%.

    The leisure and travel industry saw an increase in online fraud of 136.6% in the United States and 155.9% globally.

    TransUnion based its report on an analysis of billions of transactions carried out across more than 40,000 apps and websites in industries including health care, gaming, financial services, insurance, retail, travel and leisure, and gambling.

    The data was evaluated using the company’s identity-proofing risk-based authentication and fraud analytics software, TruValidate.

    “What we are seeing has been fairly consistent since the pandemic started,” said Gaddis. “People perpetuating fraud go to where the money is and go to where the opportunity lies.”

    The report found that one in three consumers had been targeted by online fraud that embraces a theme relating to Covid-19. Of those potential victims, a third (33%) had been sucked in and defrauded.

    “It’s important for people to know that if they do fall victim to a scam, they aren’t alone,” Gaddis said, adding that “it takes all of us to really be vigilant to help fight it.”