FinCEN Urges Communication of Concerns Related to Crisis

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The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has released a notice encouraging financial institutions to communicate coronavirus-related (COVID-19) concerns and to stay alert to related illicit activity, similar to fraudulent transactions that occur in the wake of natural disasters. FinCEN is monitoring public reports and BSA reports of suspect behavior connected to COVID-19, and has noted some emerging trends:

  • Imposter Scams – Bad actors attempt to solicit donations, steal personal information, or distribute malware by impersonating government agencies (e.g., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), international organizations (e.g., World Health Organization), or healthcare organizations.
  • Investment Scams – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) urged investors to be wary of COVID-19-related investment scams, such as promotions that falsely claim that the products or services of publicly traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus.
  • Product Scams – The FTC and FDA have issued public statements and warning letters to companies selling unapproved or misbranded products that make false health claims pertaining to COVID-19. Additionally, FinCEN has received reports regarding fraudulent marketing of COVID-19-related supplies, such as certain facemasks.
  • Insider Trading – FinCEN has received reports regarding suspected COVID-19-related insider trading.

FinCEN reminded institutions of its Advisory, FIN-2017-A007, "Advisory to Financial Institutions Regarding Disaster-Related Fraud" (Oct. 31, 2017), for descriptions of other relevant typologies, such as benefits fraud, charities fraud, and cyber-related fraud.

For suspected suspicious transactions linked to COVID-19, along with checking the appropriate suspicious activity report-template (SAR-template) box(es) for certain typologies, FinCEN also encourages financial institutions to enter “COVID19” in Field 2 of the SAR template.

Source:  FinCEN

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