Fraud Prevention

2020 Fraud and Abuse Data: Year in Review

February 9, 20212 min Read

2020 was the year of the digital revolution as businesses rushed to move operations online, and even the most technophobic consumer was forced to interact digitally in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ever-opportunistic fraudsters saw huge expansion possibilities and ramped up attacks at a staggering rate worldwide as digital traffic rocketed. Let us take a closer peek at 2020 fraud and abuse data.

Number Crunching

  • 4,393,211,659 - the number of attacks across the globe in 2020.
  • 22.9% of all digital interactions in 2020 were attempted fraud attacks.

2020 Attackers Leaderboard - By Location

Europe emerged as the star player in fraud in 2020, with Russia seeing a very high attack volume. Previously fraud hubs have concentrated in developing countries, but much of Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy suffered a 10% or more dip in GDP since the start of the pandemic. There has been a sharp rise in human-driven attacks as unemployment levels soared, with a massive 64% originating from Europe in 2020 Q3 - according to Arkose Labs' Q3 2020 Fraud and Abuse report.


As the fraud and abuse data from our latest fraud report shows, human-driven attacks are on the up, as the spike in unemployment forced workers to find alternative income streams. Human-driven attacks now account for 11% of fraud, with many of these originating from human sweatshops where teams of low-cost, low-skilled workers operate multiple devices to bypass bot-detection measures en-masse. 

Businesses struggle to fight this, as many legacy fraud-prevention systems are primarily focused on detecting bots. They need targeted friction designed to stop malicious humans by sapping their time and resources. 


2020 was a bumper year for the bot, as fraudsters ramped up automated attacks at scale. The increasing levels of bot sophistication are foiling traditional bot-prevention solutions, and businesses need a zero-tolerance strategy to thwart attacks and stay ahead of fraudsters.

Cross-Device Attacks

Attackers are increasingly targeting consumers across multiple devices. Fraud prevention strategies need to focus on accessibility and ease, protecting game consoles, smart TVs and other devices.

  • Gaming consoles are a growing attack vector, as the gaming industry has boomed during the pandemic.
  • Mobile devices are the preferred channel for many including fraudsters: 40% of all mobile transactions are now attacks.
  • Desktops still see the highest attack rates with 3,623,682,858 attacks in 2020.

Attacks across the customer journey

Fraudsters are developing ever more creative approaches, targeting all customer touchpoints from login to transaction. Abuse is wide-ranging spanning everything from inventory hoarding and scraping, to spam and credential stuffing.


Get a complimentary copy of our Q1 2021 Fraud and Abuse Report to take a more detailed look at the most notable trends in digital fraud in Q4 2020.