Report: $212 billion in identity-related SARs in 2021

There was $212 billion in identity-related suspicious activity reports in 2021, according to a recent Financial Crimes Enforcement Network analysis of identity-related suspicious Bank Secrecy Act data in 2021.

According to the Jan. 9 report, 1.6 million reports (42 percent) out of approximately 3.8 million total BSA reports were identity-related. According to FinCEN, most attackers impersonated others to defraud victims, with 69 percent or 1.7 million identity-related filings indicating that attackers had relied on impersonation.

The most frequently reported types of illicit conduct were fraud, false reports, identity theft, third-party money laundering and circumventing standards, which together accounted for 88 percent of identity-related BSA reports and 74 percent of the total identity-related suspicious activity amount. 

Fifty-four percent or 1.3 million identity-related BSA reports were filed by banks, reporting more than $200 billion in suspicious activity. Fraud was the most reported type of illicit conduct, with 1.2 million reports. Approximately 423,000 false records reports were filed, followed by approximately 222,000 reports of identity theft. There were 154,000 reports of third-party money laundering and 110,000 reports of circumventing standards.  

Eighteen percent of identity-related BSA reports described attackers’ use of compromised credentials to gain unauthorized access to customers’ accounts, while 13 percent reported attackers had taken advantage of insufficient verification processes to advance their schemes. 

Attackers were found to have deposited counterfeit checks with edited payment data and forged signatures, and then taken advantage of check settlement times between banks by accessing funds before the financial institution processed the check and discovered insufficient funds. They also secured compromised credit and debit card numbers and conducted unauthorized transactions. 

“Filers report many types of fraud, including bust out schemes — where attackers open credit card accounts with false information and then max out the cards, check fraud, credit and debit card fraud and many types of COVID-19 fraud,” according to FinCEN.