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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

FinCEN warns of Covid-19 cybercriminal activity

Federal Issues FinCEN Financial Crimes Covid-19

Federal Issues

On July 30, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued an advisory to financial institutions to assist in the “detecting, preventing, and reporting” of potential Covid-19 cybercriminal activity. The advisory highlights specific ways cybercriminals are exploiting the Covid-19 pandemic through “malware and phishing schemes, extortion, business email compromise (BEC) fraud, and exploitation of remote applications.” Among other things, the advisory warns that with increased remote access, cybercriminals seek to undermine weak authentication processes to gain unauthorized access to accounts. Moreover, FinCEN and law enforcement have observed increased phishing scams that use Covid-19 themes, such as payments related to the CARES Act, in the subject and body of emails to lure their victims. Regarding ransomware, the advisory notes that “[i]n almost all cases, criminals require ransomware-related extortion payments to be made in [convertible virtual currency].” Lastly, the advisory notes that due to changing business operations, cybercriminals are using BEC schemes to intercept or fraudulently induce payments in the healthcare industry supply chain. The advisory includes a specific list of red flag indicators for financial institutions to be aware of in each category.

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