March 4, 2021

Feedzai’s Financial Crime Report: Fraud Attacks Skyrocketed in 2020

  • 650% increase in Account Take Over scams from Q4 2020 as compared to Q1 2020 
  • 250% increase in online banking fraud attacks
  • 178% fraud rate increase for digital media
  • 70% of all fraud is driven by card not present (CNP) transactions
  • 48% drop in card present (CP) fraud attacks, though transaction volume only drops 20%

San Mateo, California – March 4th, 2021
Feedzai, the world’s leading cloud-based risk management platform, has announced its Financial Crime Report Q1, 2021. Feedzai’s data from financial transactions across the world shows a stark difference in consumer behavior and financial crime in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region as compared to Europe (EU) and North America (NA). A clear image appears – a hyper-digital world where east and west are in different recovery stages, reflecting different regional financial crime trends.

Overall, 2020 allowed fraudsters to rejoice at the rapid shift to digital banking and commerce while consumers got swindled by purchase, impersonation, money mule schemes, and account takeover scams.

650% Increase in Account Takeover (ATO) Scams in Q
In an ATO attack, fraudsters obtain stolen credentials, account information, and passwords that belong to legitimate users. Once they access the account, they can transfer funds or buy goods with stolen credentials. Transfers occur when consumers move money from one account to another. The growing popularity of real-time payment functions, combined with the expansion of online banking, means that money moves quickly, and once it’s gone, it’s almost impossible to get back. 

Feedzai’s fraud experts noticed an uptick of stolen credentials for sale on the dark web in 2020. The proliferation of stolen credentials, along with the exponential rise in online transactions, provided ideal conditions for fraudsters to blend in with legitimate consumer traffic without being detected. 

250% Increase in Online Banking in Attempted Fraud on Online Banking
Online banking isn’t new, but it’s newly popular. There’s been a 200% increase in mobile banking, and fraudsters worked to blend in among them. Online banking experienced a 250% increase in attempted fraud. As expected, both telephone and branch fraud rates dropped to lower levels than they had been before the pandemic. 

178% Fraud Rate Increase for Digital Media
In Q2 2020, during the height of global lockdowns, demand for books and streaming services such as music and movies increased. Demand remained strong in the APAC region, but NA and EU eventually returned to pre-pandemic baseline levels. The story around fraud is quite different, at least for NA and EU. In these regions, attempted fraud attacks increased a whopping 178% since January 2020.   

48% Drop in Card Present Fraud Attacks; Volume Only Drops 20%
Card present transactions dropped by about 20% at the start of the pandemic and have consistently remained around that level. However, fraud attacks tumbled by an incredible 48%. 

Card not present Transactions Drive 70% of Fraud Attacks
Fraudsters love CNP transactions, and without essential security measures such as machine learning, behavioral analytics, biometrics, and two-factor authentication (2FA), they likely will continue for some time to come.

Top 5 Transfer Fraud Schemes
Across the board, the pandemic was a boon for fraudsters and a burden for consumers. When it comes to transfers fraud, criminals were more drawn to the following five fraud schemes than to all others. 

  • Impersonation Scams – 23%
  • Purchase Scams – 22% 
  • Account Takeover Scams – 22%
  • Investment Scams – 6%
  • Romance Scams – 3% 

Top 5 Anti Money Laundering Red Flags
AML alerts don’t necessarily mean a crime occurred. Financial Institutions (FIs) determine their risk thresholds and sets their alerts accordingly. However, several triggered AML alert types can indicate that money mules are funneling money obtained through illegal activities

  • Rapid Movement of Funds
  • Transactions in Same or Similar Amounts
  • High-Risk Geography 
  • Activity in Dormant Account
  • Transactions in Round Amounts

10 Financial Crime Prevention Tips for Consumers
Fraudsters are eager to separate you from your money. Here are some tips to keep your finances secure.

  1. Research retailers before you purchase and only shop on secure sites that use “https.”
  2. Pay with your credit card, not a debit card, and enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for all online transactions.
  3. If a deal is too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. This is also true for jobs promising easy money for little or no effort.
  4. Check for typos or unusual URLs in the sender’s email address, such as “[email protected].
  5. Avoid links that ask you to click on them to provide protected personal information (PPI) such as social security or account numbers.
  6. Do not answer calls from unfamiliar or unknown caller IDs.
  7. If your credentials are stolen or compromised, change all of your passwords and never use the stolen password again. 
  8. Make sure to choose complex, unique passwords for each account, and change your passwords every few months.
  9. Do not provide PPI to anyone claiming to be a government official or from your bank; these entities will not call you and ask for this information.
  10. Legitimate employers won’t ask employees to transfer money in and out of personal accounts. 

7 Ways FIs can Prevent and Detect Financial Crime
Banks have a role to play in keeping their customers safe from fraudsters and scammers. Here are a few steps banks can take to ensure their customers are well-protected.

  1. Create detailed customer behavior profiles so that you can recognize and differentiate authentic customer behavior from criminal behavior.
  2. Educate your customers in best practices for good digital hygiene.
  3. Implement security measures (e.g., 2FA).
  4. Combine inbound and outbound payments monitoring and include movement of payments between account rings.
  5. Capitalize on existing relationships with e-crime providers, dark web experts, and internal and external cybersecurity professionals to uncover credential testing and check customer scam reporting.
  6. Participate in consortium data at least twice a week.
  7. Leverage rules, machine learning, and data analytics to detect and prevent fraud and financial crime. 

“2020 was a year of rapid growth in financial crime. Fraudsters tried to take advantage of the convergence between a fast-paced digital environment and a new wave of inexperienced consumers to perpetrate a multitude of attacks that created a significant uptick in fraud,” said Jaime Ferreira, Senior Director of Global Data Science at Feedzai. “Financial institutions need to further invest in technologies to protect their customers while developing educational approaches. Robust technology and informed consumers are a powerful combination when fighting financial crime.”

Access Feedzai’s Quarterly Financial Crime Report to learn more about the latest fraud and consumer trends.


About Feedzai:
Feedzai is the world’s first RiskOps platform, protecting people and payments with a comprehensive suite of AI-based solutions designed to stop fraud and financial crime. Feedzai is trusted by leading financial institutions to manage critical risk and compliance processes, safeguarding trillions of dollars of transactions while improving the customer experience and protecting the privacy of everyday users. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:
Feedzai [email protected]