Fraud and pandemics

Michael Levi, Russell G. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to draw out the common characteristics of frauds associated with pandemics and to identify any risks unique to them. Design/methodology/approach: It considers the range of frauds and their reporting lags and examines what is known about current frauds against individuals, businesses and government, principally using public and private sector data from Australia and the UK. Findings: The study identifies some novel crime types and methodologies arising during the current pandemic that were not seen in previous pandemics. These changes may result from public health measures taken in response to COVID-19, the current state of technologies and the activities of law enforcement and regulatory guardians. It shows that many frauds would occur anyway, but some specific – mainly online – frauds occur during pandemics, and because of large scale government assistance programmes to businesses and individuals, far more opportunities were created from COVID-19 than in previous eras. Social implications: The study concludes with a discussion of the policy implications for prevention, resilience and for private and public policing and criminal justice. It stresses that plans for future pandemics must include provisions for better early monitoring and control of fraud and associated procurement corruption and notes that these require greater political will and organisation. It recommends a more serious analysis of the impact of prevention communications outreach to citizens, businesses and government. Originality/value: The study uses fresh data on frauds from the private and public sectors and assesses some measures of control in a holistic way.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-432
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Financial Crime
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2022


  • Corruption
  • COVID-19
  • Cybercrime
  • Fraud
  • Pandemics
  • Policing
  • Prevention
  • Tax fraud


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