A Guide to Understanding the Major Types of Financial Crimes in 2024

A Guide to Understanding the Major Types of Financial Crimes in 2024

Financial crimes continue to evolve and proliferate in our increasingly digital, global economy. From complex cyber-heists to simple embezzlement schemes, financial criminals have many tools at their disposal to unlawfully obtain funds.

Staying aware of the key types of financial crimes is crucial for individuals, businesses, and law enforcement agencies looking to prevent these unlawful activities. Here is a guide to the major categories of financial crimes plaguing the world in 2024:

Cybercrime and Hacking

  • Phishing – Impersonating legitimate companies/individuals to induce people to reveal sensitive data
  • Malware – Malicious software like viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, etc.
  • Hacking – Illegally accessing systems/data by exploiting vulnerabilities 
  • Cyber extortion – Demanding money to not exploit a security vulnerability
  • Crypto-jacking – Illegally using victim computing resources to mine cryptocurrency

Money Laundering 

  • Smurfing – Breaking up large cash transactions into smaller amounts
  • Currency muling – Transferring illicit cash between countries/institutions
  • Shell companies – Fictitious entities used to disguise movement of money  
  • Trade-based laundering – Disguising transfers as payments for goods/services
  • Real estate – Purchasing property to integrate criminal proceeds into legal finances

Securities Fraud

  • Insider trading – Trading on confidential, material non-public information
  • Ponzi schemes – Using new investor money to pay purported returns to earlier investors
  • Pump and dump – Inflating stock prices through false/misleading statements
  • Accounting fraud – Intentionally misstating/omitting financial information  
  • Rug pulls – Abruptly abandoning a cryptocurrency project after fundraising

Tax Evasion

  • Underreporting income – Omitting cash receipts and other revenue
  • Offshore accounts – Illegally sheltering income in low/no tax jurisdictions
  • Abusive tax shelters – Using illegal schemes to improperly avoid taxes
  • Crypto tax evasion – Failing to report transactions/gains with cryptocurrencies

Fraud and Embezzlement

  • Wire transfer fraud – Tricking people into wiring money to criminal accounts  
  • Credit card fraud – Stealing card data to make unauthorized transactions
  • Business email compromise – Impersonating employees to redirect payments
  • Government impersonation – Posing as officials to steal funds or identities
  • Fake invoicing – Billing for products/services that were never delivered

Human Trafficking

  • Smuggling – Facilitating illegal border crossings for forced labor/sex work 
  • Money laundering – Legitimizing profits from human trafficking operations
  • Document fraud – Creating false IDs to conceal identities of trafficked persons
  • Financial coercion – Exploiting debts to compel labor/services of trafficked victims


Robust actions are required to counter the growing threat of financial crimes in the digital era. Law enforcement cooperates across borders utilizing advanced technology like AI, blockchain analytics, and cyber forensics to detect and prosecute these crimes. The public and private sectors must also enhance anti-money laundering programs, cybersecurity practices, and fraud awareness to mitigate risks.

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