Fraud schemes during COVID-19: a comparison from FATF countries

Published date25 October 2021
Date25 October 2021
Subject MatterAccounting & finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial crime
AuthorFiras Murrar
Fraud schemes during COVID-19: a
comparison from FATF countries
Firas Murrar
Financial Follow Up Unit, Ramallah, Palestine and Instructor,
Administrative and Financial Department, Faculty of Graduate Studies,
Arab American University, Ramallah, Palestine
Purpose This study aims to def‌ine fraud crimes, its most prevalent categories and examines the most
common of these schemesduring the COVID-19 pandemic by drawing on the experiences of several countries
and the FinancialAction Task Forces (FATF) updated paper issuedduring the pandemic.
Design/methodology/approach This study uses a comparative analysismethodology in conjunction
with a descriptiveanalytical approach to compare four FATF member countriesin light of the fraud activities
that occurred on theirterritory during the pandemic and their respective law enforcementmeasures. It makes
use of secondary data sources,namely, the theoretical literature on the subject and FATFs updated paper on
money launderingand terrorism f‌inancing during COVID-19.
Findings This study found that fraudstersexploited the diff‌icult circumstances during the pandemic in
the majority of countries worldwide and identif‌ied various fraud schemes based on the incidents reviewed,
such as the abuse of economicstimulus in Italy, counterfeiting medical goodsin Brazil and investment fraud
schemes in California,USA. In Spain, the fraud schemes tended to be cyber related. Such variationswere also
observedby the law enforcementagencies in the above-mentioned countries.
Originality/value Numerous studies on fraudschemes are available to researchers. However, few such
studies have been conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this study makes a unique
contributionto the literature.
Keywords FATF, COVID-19, Fraud schemes, Law enforcement agencies
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic that has cast a shadow over the world and the resulting
social and economic effects on countries worldwide, criminals have exploited human needs
through a variety of fraudulent methods. For example,according to the U.S. Department of
Justice, there was a clear warning about the risks of fraud in bold Fraud Alert: Be aware
that criminals exploit COVID-19 worldwide through a variety of scams(United States
Department of Justice,2021).
One of the most critical initiatives to study the changing crimesituation in the COVID-19
era has been the Financial Action Task Forces(FATF) monitoring of criminal activities and
the measures implementedby countries in response to the different types of challenges. This
includes a paper on COVID-19 risks and policy responsespublished in May 2020, as well as
a series of webinars involvingparticipants from both the public and private sectors (FATF,
The FATF paper has been revised and updated to include the most recent predicate
offences that generated illicit money during the pandemic. The paper discusses the global
occurrence of multiple types of fraud schemes, the diversity of victims and the exploitation
of their humanitarian needsfor vaccinations and other medical needs.
Fraud schemes
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.29 No. 2, 2022
pp. 533-540
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-09-2021-0203
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