May 16th–May 22nd

COVID-19 and E-Commerce Fraud

Each week, we’re sharing insights from Sift’s global data network on how COVID-19 is impacting e-commerce. The map illustrates weekly instances of fraud by region.

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Market Snapshot:

Most impacted verticals and fraud rates*

Total traffic and fraud rates

The graph below shows how COVID-19 is impacting e-commerce merchants throughout the Sift global data network, which uses real-time machine learning to analyze 35 billion events per month—e.g., actions that Sift customers send to our network, such as login attempts, account creations, or transactions—to surface new fraud signals and trends.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay2.0%2.5%3.0%Event VolumeFraud Rate

Merchant traffic and fraud rates by vertical

The following data represents a 7-day moving average to illustrate how COVID-19 is impacting merchants by vertical. Note that in some cases, slowdowns in traffic are driving fraud rates higher because the average number of fraud attacks is being calculated against declining event volumes.

Digital e-commerce

Current fraud rate: 3.15%

Overall traffic and transactions in digital e-commerce are down this week, with fraud rates following suit. Total instances of fraud in this sector are trending downward, too. Volumes will likely continue to fluctuate across digital e-commerce as the market reacts to loosened restrictions and significant economic changes in multiple verticals, with opportunistic fraudsters ready to take advantage of the uncertainty.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay3.0%3.5%4.0%4.5%Event VolumeFraud Rate

Ticketing and events

Current fraud rate: 1.44%

Ticketing and events merchants continue to see a slight but steady uptick in volumes this week, suggesting that consumers are hopeful about large group gatherings becoming feasible in the coming months. But vigilance should still be a priority—the fraud rate in this vertical spiked dramatically this past week. Even providers with disengaged customers may become more vulnerable to fraud attacks as accounts are left unsupervised, so it’s critical that businesses stay alert.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay2.0%4.0%Event VolumeFraud Rate

Travel and transportation

Current fraud rate: 3.27%

Global travel bans quickly cleared the skies and the streets as coronavirus rapidly spread across the planet. Airlines, ride-sharing platforms, sightseeing services, and hotel bookings suffered early drops in ridership and purchases. But the recent promise of eased restrictions has caused eager, would-be jetsetters to start making travel plans once again, causing volumes in this vertical to rise over the past two weeks. Fraud has declined over these past two weeks, too—but travel merchants should continue to be cautious, with current fraud rates still over 45% higher than they were last year.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay2.0%4.0%6.0%Event VolumeFraud Rate

Physical e-commerce

Current fraud rate: 1.19%

Last week, physical e-commerce volumes dropped, with fraud rates following suit—and while fraud is still down this week, this vertical experienced an uptick in volume over the past seven days. This could be due to a variety of responses to COVID-driven restrictions being lifted and changed; some consumers will return to brick-and-mortar shops as they reopen, while others will continue to take advantage of new and improved, no-contact shopping options.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay1.0%1.5%2.0%Event VolumeFraud Rate


Current fraud rate: 12%

As concern over coronavirus grew, school closures took place in rapid succession. From traditional universities to creative courses and fitness, online learning platforms saw an avalanche of traffic as teachers and students pivoted quickly to virtual classrooms and content—and climbing fraud rates weren’t far behind. They continue to rise—this vertical currently shows the highest fraud rate across the entire Sift network. Conversely, volumes have been dropping over the past two weeks. This is very likely due to graduations taking place and the start of summer vacations for students across the world.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay12.0%14.0%16.0%Event VolumeFraud Rate

Financial services

Current fraud rate: 0.85%

Event volumes in the financial services space—e.g., banks, insurance providers, and credit unions—are up this week, though fraud rates continue to trend downward. This could be a result of incomes shifting or stimulus checks arriving, as well as the impact of businesses closing down or changing strategy during the pandemic. Shutdowns have caused some individuals and institutions to spend more conservatively and keep a more watchful eye on finances, making this vertical an unattractive target for fraudsters.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay1.0%1.5%2.0%Event VolumeFraud Rate

Food and beverage

Current fraud rate: 0.73%

Consumers have changed how they dine, where they shop, and how they pay. In light of social distancing, they’re taking steps to limit physical contact through mobile payments, food and grocery delivery, and BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store), initially causing significant increases in volume. This week, those volumes are down, perhaps due to some areas of the country allowing in-person dining once again. Fraud rates are down this week, too—but shifting demand is likely impacting volume-to-fraud ratios, as opposed to there being any significant difference in fraud attempts.

FebruaryMarchAprilMay0.8%1.0%1.2%Event VolumeFraud Rate