Fighting financial crime together – SMRs during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restrictions on the movement of people and goods is changing the demand for products and services across sectors. AUSTRAC and our law enforcement and national intelligence partners are monitoring and preparing for a shift in the risks that criminals may pose to the financial system and the community.

Reporting entities are at the front line in combating financial crime. We encourage you to monitor for new and emerging threats and submit suspicious matter reports (SMRs) to AUSTRAC. Submitting high-quality, accurate and timely SMRs give us the best chance to detect, deter and disrupt criminal activity. 

AUSTRAC have identified areas of criminal exploitation where the financial system may be more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:

  • Targeting of government assistance programs through fraudulent applications and phishing scams.
  • Movement of large amounts of cash following the purchase or sale of illegal or stockpiled goods.
  • Out of character purchases of precious metals and gold bullion
  • Exploitation of workers or trafficking of vulnerable persons in the community.
  • An increase in the risk of online child exploitation following restrictions on travel.
  • A rise in extremist views either against members of the community or the government.

We also ask that you advise AUSTRAC of any significant shifts you observe in relation to your financial crime and fraud monitoring, which we can then share more widely to inform industry. Please contact us via the online form

We will continue to share information about how we will support and work with our reporting entities during the COVID-19 pandemic.