Financial fraud often receives the big headlines, most recently concerning a Citi trader who conspired to fix interest rates. But according to a recent report, one of the most common types of fraud has been steadily increasing over the past decade: wire fraud.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), data from the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network shows that wire fraud has risen tenfold over the past decade, all the way up to 3,923 cases last year alone. The data says that this number is likely to grow in the future as well, as wire fraud cases were up 63 in 2012 from the previous year.
“It’s epidemic at this point, it’s huge,” says Mark Tibergien, chief executive of Pershing Advisor Solutions, told the WSJ. “You are constantly playing defense against very clever people.”
If left unchecked, wire fraud can be extremely damaging to a business. In July 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission accused hedge fund SAC Capitol Investors of wire and securities fund resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars. And in June, New Jersey federal prosecutors charged a group of eight hackers with stealing $15 million through wire fraud, which targeted a wide variety of large entities including Citigroup Inc., eBay Inc.’s PayPal, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The problem for businesses is that, according to the WSJ, many firms hold brokers and analysts personally responsible for any money lost via wire fraud. Clients aren’t held responsible. And as Stephanie Elliott, chief compliance officer at Chaplin Davis Investments, said, “There is no insurance that covers cyberattacks. If your firm wires out $1 million, guess what, you are out $1 million.”
The report also warns that many wire fraud schemes are progressing beyond simply fake e-mails and hacking. Some fraudsters are faking romantic intentions through online dating sites in order to solicit money, while others are manipulating sites such as Ancestry.com to fake familial ties.