TransUnion has published its Q2 2021 report, identifying a shift in the industries targeted by fraudsters, with financial criminals increasingly focusing on the travel and leisure industries as opposed to financial services.

Overall suspected digital fraud attempts rose by 16.5% in comparison to Q2 2020 figures across all industries, with the rate in the US standing at 17.1% for the same time period.

Of the industries analysed, gaming and travel and leisure experienced a 393% and 155% increase in fraudulent activity respectively, whilst in the US the figures stood at 261.9% and 136.6%.

In stark contrast, the rate of suspected online financial services fraud attempts have risen at a much slower pace of 18.8% globally and 38.3% in the US, whilst attempts targeting the sector rose 149% when comparing the first four months of 2021 and the last four of 2020.

Additionally, the logistics, telecommunications and insurance industries also experienced a decline in targeting by fraudsters, with attempts against each sector decreasing by 49.2%, 30.8% and 16.7% respectively.

“It is quite common for fraudsters to shift their focus every few months from one industry to another,” said Shai Cohen, Senior Vice President of Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. 

“Fraudsters tend to seek out industries that may be seeing an immense growth in transactions. This quarter, as countries began to open up more from their COVID-19 lockdowns and travel and other leisure activities became more mainstream, fraudsters clearly made this industry a top target. The immense growth in gaming fraud also can be attributed to the shifts in focus of fraudsters as this growing market becomes a larger target.”

Of the methods used against the various industries, gaming was predominantly targeted by gold farming, travel and leisure by credit card fraud, gambling by policy and licence agreement violations, logistics by shipping fraud, telecommunications by true identity theft and insurance by suspected ghost brokers.

COVID-19 related fraud was also, understandably, on the increase during Q2 2021. Phishing was the most common form of COVID-related fraud globally, with 33% of respondents to a TransUnion survey reporting being targeted with this method, followed by credit card theft or fraudulent charges at 24%.

Additionally, one in three consumers informed TransUNion that they had been targeted with a COVID-related during Q2 2021. The group’s June 2021 Consumer Pulse found that 35% of respondents were targeted by fraudsters with digital schemes concerning the pandemic, and nearly 39% of US consumers also replied that they were targeted with such methods.

“One in three people globally have been targeted by or fallen victim to digital fraud during the pandemic, placing even more pressure on businesses to ensure their customers are confident in transacting with them,” said Melissa Gaddis, Senior Director of Customer Success, Global Fraud Solutions at TransUnion. 

“As fraudsters continue to target consumers, it’s incumbent on businesses to do all that they can to ensure their customers have an appropriate level of security to trust their transaction is safe, all while having a friction-right experience to avoid shopping cart abandonment.

The impact of COVID-19 on fraudulent trends was examined earlier this year by Chargebacks911 in its second annual Chargeback Field Report, with the group warning of an ‘eruption in friendly fraud’ as a result of the pandemic.