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COVID's Impact on Thievery

Bloomberg Businessweek July 5, 2021 pp38-39 |The Heist Issue| “How Covid Changed Heists, Hoaxes, Scams, Cons and other mischief by Dorothy Gambrell, with Minh-Anh Nguyen



Source Interpol. See Interpol for ways to avoid scams


Read Bloomberg Businessweek for all detail.


Summary provided by 2244

“The pandemic was a bonanza for streaming media services, real estate brokers, and bulk toilet tissue suppliers. It also wasn’t bad for bike thieves, sellers of dubious financial products, and members of obscure royal families who just so happen to be sitting on an enormous fortune they’d love to share if only you’d wire them $10,000 in cash today.”


Data presented


Theft in America: car theft up from about 59,000 to more than 75,000 per month. Catalytic converter theft went from nearly zero in January of 2019 to more than 2,000 per month by December 2020. Bikes registered with Bike Index rose from about 500 per month in January 2019 and peaked at more than 2,000 per month by December 2020.


Wildlife trafficking fell significantly for Pangolins, Tigers, Rhinos and Elephants by 41%, 50%, 59% and 68% respectively.


Direct selling companies benefited with 64% reporting positive revenue gains, 16% neutral and 20% negative.


Cryptocurrency scams ran amuck with reported investor losses rising from nearly zero in January 2019 to more than $40,000,000 by Q2 2021.


Fraud varied by locale South Dakota (<250/100K people) with the least contrasted by Nevada, Minnesota, Florida and Maryland the highest (>1,000/100,000 people). The east and west coast not mentioned above, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Georgia and others had about 750 fraud reports per 100,000 people.



Image from Interpol


Identify theft was remarkably high in Kansas and Illinois at >1000 reports per 100,000 people. Much of the northern states went relatively unscathed while Washington, Nevada, Arkansas, and Georgia were around 750 reports of Identity theft per 100,000 people.


Illicit drug busts as reported by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection were down for Cocaine -34%, Marijuana -11%, Heroin -9% but up for Methamphetamine +9% and Fentanyl up a whopping +135%. Buyers of illicit drugs reported that prices were higher, 14% of those surveyed, that they bought larger amounts, 16% of those surveyed and that they washed their “hands immediately after purchasing”, 19% of those surveyed.


Phishing skyrocketed from low levels to 120,000 in 2019 and 240,000 in 2020 based on complaints filed in the U.S.


Global ransomware rose from an approximate average of about 15,000,000 attacks to move than 30,000,000 leading into 2021.


During COVID, “Total loss from U.S. Federal Trade Commission fraud reports mentioning Covid-19 and related terms” are $76,000,000 related to vacation and travel, $40,000,000 for Online Shopping, $20,000,000 as business imposters and $13,000,000 for government imposters.”


Global Cargo Thefts rose for food and beverage, consumer products, and fuel but were lower for electronics, alcohol and tobacco, construction materials and autos. Methods of Global Cargo Theft increased using hijacking, from facilities and from containers but were lower for theft of vehicles and theft from vehicles and “slash and grab.”


Substandard or falsified medical supplies were discovered” in an Interpol seizure in March 2020.” “The most commonly circulated Covid-related phony medical products were face masks, hand sanitizer, test kits, chloroquine, surgical gowns, thermometers, medical equipment and medical oxygen.”



Image from Interpol

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