Fraud and pandemics

Prof. Russell Smith1, Professor Michael Levi2

1Flinders University, Kyneton, Australia
2Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom

This paper presents some of the key findings from a report, Fraud and its relationship to pandemics and economic crises: From Spanish flu to COVID-19, published by the Australian Institute of Criminology in May 2021, and updated to December 2021. The paper draws out the common characteristics of frauds associated with pandemics, and identifies risks unique to pandemics and financial crises, beginning with the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, as the closest to COVID-19 in the modern era. It identifies some novel crime types and methodologies that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and the United Kingdom that were not seen in previous pandemics. The paper concludes with a discussion of the policy implications for prevention, resilience and for private and public policing and criminal justice in Australia. It stresses the need for plans for future pandemics and economic crises to include provisions for better early monitoring and control of fraud and procurement corruption.


Dr Russell G Smith has qualifications in law, psychology and criminology from the University of Melbourne and a Ph.D. from King’s College London. He was a solicitor and then a lecturer at the University of Melbourne before taking up a position at the Australian Institute of Criminology where he is now an Honorary Fellow having recently retired after almost 25 years, most recently as Principal Criminologist. He is also now a Professor in the College of Business, Government and Law at Flinders University, and is a Fellow and former President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology.


Dec 08 2021