The Week Of: May 18, 2020

This week’s news and stories of interest to the AML community. If you prefer a news roundup sent to you, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

FinCEN Publishes Advisory on Medical Scams Related to COVID-19

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) this week issued an advisory to alert financial institutions to rising medical scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FinCEN said this was the first of several advisories it intends to issue concerning pandemic-related financial crimes.

The advisory included red flag indicators for three fraudulent activities:

  • Medical-related frauds, including fraudulent cures, tests, vaccines, and services
  • Non-delivery fraud of medical-related goods scams
  • Price gouging and hoarding of medical-related items

In addition to the advisory, FinCEN published a Notice containing pertinent information regarding reporting COVID-19-related financial crimes to remind financial institutions of certain Bank Secrecy Act obligations. All future COVID-19-related advisories will refer FI’s to the notice.

Read the advisory and notice from FinCEN.

Brits lose £3.5m to COVID-19 scams

More than 1,700 Brits have lost £3.5m ($4.2m) to COVID-19-related scam emails and phone calls, according to figures by Action Fraud.

The watchdog said it was aware of 7,796 phishing emails linked to coronavirus, where fraudsters pose as legitimate companies in a bid to scam people out of their bank account details. Action Fraud urged not to share their personal details over unsolicited emails and not to transfer money if requested.

Scams include a fake COVID-19 voucher apparently offered by Tesco and a WhatsApp offer claiming to be from Morrisons. Both are fake.

Pandemic-related financial crimes have hit all corners of the globe. We recently highlighted how Canadians had lost more than $1.2 million and that the Better Business Bureau in the United States experienced a 40% increase in scam reports.

These numbers will grow as the pandemic continues and financial institutions should remain alert to the rise of related scams.

Read more from Yahoo! Finance.

Elder fraud and the coronavirus

As fraud rises amidst the pandemic, Law360 reminds us of those who are particularly susceptible to financial crimes: senior citizens.

The elderly are targets of scammers because they tend to hold a higher concentration of wealth and are likely to suffer from conditions such as isolation, cognitive decline, and physical disabilities. A significant increase in fraudulent activities during times of turmoil in turn increases seniors’ vulnerabilities.

As always, financial institutions should be alert to any red flags concerning their elderly clients, including frequent or unexplained withdrawals; uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money; suspicious signatures on checks, or checks written as “loans” or “gifts”; and sudden non-sufficient fund activity or unpaid bills, among others.

Watch our webinar, The Prevalence of Elder Abuse, to learn more about this problem and measures financial institutions can take to tackle it.