One Year after COVID-19 Pandemic Declared, New TransUnion Research Shows Digital Fraud Attempts from Hong Kong Have Increased Nearly 20%
- Rate of digital fraud attempts against businesses up 19.25% from Hong Kong when comparing pre-pandemic to pandemic levels
- Attempted fraud from Hong Kong against logistics companies has tripled
- 44% of Gen Z consumers say they have been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19, the most of any generation
TransUnion’s (NYSE: TRU) latest quarterly analysis of global online fraud trends found that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, fraudsters in Hong Kong are increasing their digital schemes against businesses. In addition, provisional findings of TransUnion’s recent Global Consumer Pulse Study found that 36% of Hong Kong consumers have recently been targeted by digital fraud.
TransUnion came to its conclusions about fraud against businesses based on intelligence from billions of transactions and more than 40,000 websites and apps contained in its flagship identity proofing, risk-based authentication and fraud analytics solution suite – TransUnion TruValidate™.
It found the percent of suspected fraudulent digital transaction attempts originated from Hong Kong increased 19.25% when comparing the following two periods: Period #1 (March 11, 2019 and March 10, 2020); Period #2 (March 11, 2020 – when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic – and March 10, 2021).
“Fraudsters are always looking to take advantage of significant world events. The COVID-19 pandemic and its corresponding rapid digital acceleration brought about by stay-at-home measures is a global event unrivaled in the online age,” said Jerry Ying, TransUnion APAC’s chief products officer. “By analysing billions of transactions we screened for fraud indicators over the past year, it has become clear that the war against the virus has also brought about a war against digital fraud.”
Consumers Targeted By COVID-19 Schemes
Provisional findings from TransUnion’s Consumer Pulse Study – a survey of 785 Hong Kong consumers from March 5-22, 2021 – also found that 36% of Hong Kong consumers said they have been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19 in the last three months, which is 20% higher than approximately one year ago. In April 2020, 30% said they had been targeted by digital fraud related to COVID-19. The full results of the TransUnion Hong Kong Consumer Pulse Survey are set to be released later this April.
Gen Z (born 1995-2002) are currently the most targeted out of any generation at 44%. They are followed by Millennials (born 1980-1994) at 40%.
Among consumers in Hong Kong reporting being targeted with digital COVID-19 schemes, the top recently reported pandemic-themed scam is phishing with 37% saying they were hit with it.
Examining Fraud Types and Their Impact on Industries
TransUnion analyzed the below industries for a change in the percent of suspected digital fraud attempts against them, comparing the periods of March 11, 2019-March 10, 2020 and March 11, 2020-March 10, 2021.
Suspected Digital Fraud Attempt Rate Post-Pandemic Declaration
Suspected fraud change coming from Hong Kong
Global suspected fraud change for industry
Top type of fraud globally
Communities (online dating, forums, etc.)
Credit Card Fraud
Policy/License Agreement Violations
Travel & Leisure
Credit Card Fraud
Source: TransUnion’s quarterly analysis of global online fraud trends
Results showed a significant increase in attempted fraud from Hong Kong against logistics companies. The level almost trebled (up 199%) and has been a significant development during COVID-19 times. Similarly, with more people at home due to COVID-19-related restriction they are gaming more, and fraudsters are going where the transactions are and as a result attempted fraud coming from Hong Kong in the gaming industry more than doubled (up 122%).
“With more people shopping online during the pandemic, goods are having to be shipped and fraudsters know this. They are either redirecting genuine orders or placing fraudulent orders with compromised consumer accounts to genuine customer addresses, and then redirecting them once shipped,” said Ying. “Despite these threats, consumers demand businesses both protect their transactions and still maintain convenient digital experiences. The businesses that come out on top are those that balance both.”
For more details about the above findings, visit this blog post.
 The percent or rate of suspected fraudulent digital transaction attempts are those that TransUnion’s customers either denied or reviewed due to fraudulent indicators compared to all transactions it assessed for fraud