Global fraud footprint

Cross-border payments fuel international cybercriminals

Many organizations that have nurtured new business via cross-border e-commerce sales are vulnerable to payments fraud, especially during the COVID period. Here’s how to fight global cybercriminals at their own game.

Cybercrime, particularly payments fraud, is highly attractive to criminals because it’s low risk and has the potential to be highly lucrative. (See “Cybercrime,” Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.) And cybercrime knows no boundaries. Cybercriminals can exploit individuals, businesses and governments from anywhere in the world.

While some intra-country payment fraud does occur, the real risk is in cross-border payments. Customers, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies find it difficult to pursue fraud across international jurisdictions. As far back as 2017, this has been a persistent and deep-rooted issue for stakeholders that use technology to engage in cross-border trade, as explored in an inquiry initiated in Australia by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement. (See Chapter 5, “Operational challenges and vulnerabilities,” from “Impact of new and emerging information and communications technology,” April 4, 2019.)

Payments fraud is a substantial risk for big and smaller businesses that operate across e-commerce platforms, are reliant on international supply chains, or sell goods and services in multiple countries. While smaller businesses are attractive to cybercriminals because of a perceived lack of investment in cyber-protection, larger businesses potentially offer larger spoils, according to PwC’s Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey.

INTERPOL, the International Criminal Police Organization, is so concerned by transnational financial crime that in January of this year it established the Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC). INTERPOL said the center will focus on complex money-laundering schemes and the use of virtual assets to follow the financial trails of organized crime. (See “INTERPOL launches centre against financial crime and corruption,” March 15, 2022.)

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