A new wave of sophisticated digital fraud hits Europe

Forced verification and deepfake cases multiply at alarming rates in the UK and continental Europe, according to Sumsub.

forced verification

In Germany alone, forced verification grew by 1500% as a proportion of all fraud cases, from 0.3% in the full year 2022 to 5% of all fraud in Q1 2023.

In Great Britain and Europe, as well as in North America, the proportion of deepfakes among all fraud cases grew considerably from 2022 to Q1 2023.

This proportion jumped from 1.2% to 5.9% in the UK, from 1.5% to 7.6% in Germany, and from 0.5% to 5% in Italy, respectively. Simultaneously, printed forgeries, which represented 16% – 23% of all fraud in 2022, dropped to 0.1% and less last quarter.

Digital fraud trends

Sumsub’s report highlights the following trends in digital fraud in Great Britain within various industries:

  • The proportion of fraud in consulting almost tripled (from 1% to 3%);
  • Fraud rate in crypto services nearly doubled and reached 1.6% in Q1 2023, however fintech fraud decreased from 3% to 1%;
  • E-commerce fraud grew 1.5-fold to 1.3% over the year;
  • As for Q1 2023, IT service platforms demonstrated relatively high fraud rates of 1.5%.

Across continental Europe, there are several points of catchy data as well:

  • The highest fraud was noticed in the shared mobility industry (4% in Spain and 3.6% in France);
  • From Q1 2022 to Q1 2023, like in the UK, fraud rates in consulting multiplied – from 1.3% to 4% in Germany, from 0.4% to 2.8% in France, and from 1.4% to 3.6% in Spain).

Last quarter the proportion of fraud in crypto and fintech was noticeable as well, constituting over 2% in Spain and over 1.1% in Germany, whereas in France crypto fraud grew from 1.8% to 3.8% in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022.

Noticeably, Sumsub’s internal experts see the rising trend of past-KYC stage scams across all industries, which underlines the importance of the full-cycle verification to protect the whole user journey.

Fraud types dynamics

As for the document types being used for online verification, according to Sumsub global data, the most popular document for identity checks in the UK, like in the US, is driver’s license, while in continental Europe ID cards are predominant.

The least secure document type in the EU is passport (with fraud levels as high as 5% in Spain and 3.3% in Germany), but in the UK ID cards are being forged most often (3.4% of cases).

The dynamics with fraud types between Q1 2022–Q1 2023 is worthy of attention. Last year, the top three fraud types were:

  • Liveness bypass, a method of fraud where criminals swapp-in or edit biometric data (23% of all fraud in the UK and France, 25% in Spain);
  • Printed documents (over 17% in Britain and France and over 20% in Italy and Spain);
  • Edited ID card (21% in the UK and 22% in Germany).

Last quarter, the top three fraud types in both the UK and EU were identity document forgery (40% of all fraud in Britain and Italy, and over 25% – in Germany and Spain), liveness bypass (about 13-16% of all fraud cases) and edited ID card (14-16% in the UK, France and Germany).

Forced verification pattern

The oldest fraudsters in the world are in the US. In Q1 2022, their average age was 43 years old and shifted to around 40 in Q1 2023. In the UK, the average age of fraudsters was 32 in Q1 2022 and 35 years old in Q1 2023.

As for the gender breakdown, in Q1 2022, a third (34%) of all fraudsters in the UK were female. In Q1 2023, females represented only 21% of fraudsters in Great Britain.

In 2022, the most popular hour for committing fraud in the UK was 2 p.m. GMT, and in Q1 2023, it was 12 p.m. In Great Britain, the lowest amount of fraud happened at 4-5 a.m. GMT in 2022–2023.

Commenting on the report, Pavel Goldman-Kalaydin, Head of AI & ML at Sumsub, said: “We’ve seen a pattern of forced verification globally, when it is visible that a person whose photo is taken or who’s passing the liveness check is doing so involuntarily while being held by others’ force. It is alarming that the proportion of such fraud is growing.

“Deepfakes have become easier to make and, consequently, their quantity has multiplied, as is also evident from the statistics. To create a deepfake, a fraudster uses a real person’s document, taking a photo of it and turning it into a 3D persona. Anti-fraud and verification providers who do not work constantly to update deepfake detection technologies are lagging behind and put both businesses and users at risk. Upgrading deepfake detection technology is an essential part of modern effective verification and anti-fraud systems,” Goldman-Kalaydin added.

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