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Mobile Emulators Eclipse Bots in 2023 as Preferred Fraud Vector in North America

Mobile Attacks on Bank Customers Jump from 47% to 61% as Fraudsters Shift from Bots to Weaponized Emulators; Check Fraud Reemerges as the Number 1 Fraud Type as North Americans Head into the Holiday Season 

New York, New York -- December 4, 2023 — BioCatch, the global leader in digital fraud and money laundering detection and response powered by behavioral biometric intelligence, today unveiled its 2023 Digital Banking Fraud Trends in North America report. The report offers a comprehensive perspective of the prevailing fraud landscape and trends in North America leading into Q1 2024, including how the rise of mobile banking has led to corresponding technical and human vulnerabilities for fraudsters to exploit.

For its final report of the year, BioCatch finds that North American fraud trends are rising for both old and new attack vectors. Mobile banking rates increased to 73% in 2023, which in turn has led to a dramatic surge in fraud executed from mobile devices, rising from 47% in 2022 to 61% in 2023, partly due to fraudsters shifting from bots (on web devices) to mobile emulators to avoid traditional banking controls. Aligning with FinCEN’s report of an 84% increase in check fraud in 2022, BioCatch provides an in-depth analysis of the re-emergence of check fraud, which is now the number one fraud type across North America.

“As we close out 2023 and look to 2024, we see high volumes of technological tools to execute fraud, such as bots and emulators, which are rarely seen in other regions,” said Thomas Peacock, Director of Global Fraud Intelligence at BioCatch. “Surprisingly, what was once old is new again, as the accelerating fraud type in 2023 has been check fraud– a trend that would be unthinkable in Europe today. However, when we look closer, we see similar trends to the other geographies, including the dominance of fraud on the mobile channel and the presence of social engineering to obtain funds on real-time payments (Zelle). This reinforces the need for a comprehensive fraud stack that can adapt not only to the ever-changing fraud landscape (bots/emulators) but can address the nuances seen in individual entities or areas (check fraud).” 

For this report, which is part of a year-long series of global fraud trends, BioCatch compiled data from key financial institutions within the North American region, along with insights gathered by its worldwide consortium of fraud advisors, threat analysts, and prominent industry thought leaders.

Key Report Findings

  • Mobile Fraud on the Rise: Mobile banking rates increased from 54% in 2022 to 73% in 2023, leading to a rise in mobile fraud attacks from 47% to 61%.

  • Check/Deposit Fraud Takes the Lead: Fraud in deposit accounts is the #1 fraud type across North America (including fraudulent account openings and account takeovers), with one million cases seen across its customers in H1 2023.

  • Zelle Fraud Is Rising: Fraudulent transfers using Zelle® increased by 4% in 2023, with over 30,000 cases seen in H1.

  • Fraudsters Shift from Bots to Emulators: A BioCatch case study shows a decrease in bot attacks and a sharp rise in mobile emulators against five North American banks, with one bank reporting 1584 more emulator attacks in 2023 compared to 2022. The data indicates that fraudsters are quickly favoring emulators to evade traditional defensive controls, reinforcing the effectiveness of behavioral biometric intelligence.

  • Attack Differences in the U.S. and Canada: In the U.S., criminals favored bot attacks at account opening, check and deposit fraud, digital transfers, and mule accounts. Data from Canada shows a preference for voice scams impersonating government bodies, targeting mobile devices, investment and romance scams, phishing attacks, and mule accounts.

With the FTC’s projected fraud losses at $20 billion, fraud victims are increasingly looking to their banks for compensation and protection. It is critical for financial institutions to integrate advanced behavioral biometric intelligence solutions that not only detect but also prevent these ever-evolving threats.

“As the speed of the digital transformation and customer adoption of convenient finance apps increase and sweep around the world, fraudsters are keeping pace and designing new ways to exploit these technologies and scam human targets,” said Jonathan Daly, Chief Marketing Officer at BioCatch. “Our research shows Zelle® fraud is on the rise, yet our customers report a decrease of more than 50% in Zelle fraud. Recent Zelle® reimbursement policies are promising, but we do not know how effective they will be in slowing the rate of scams. Fortunately, behavioral biometric intelligence is uniquely positioned to meet these challenges, and we, along with our global network of fraud fighters, believe strongly in these tools to defend against the next wave of advanced attacks. In short, we believe behavior is the only effective means to stop today’s fraud.

Exclusive Report Webinar Hosted by BioCatch

Join us on December 7, when BioCatch hosts a panel of industry experts to dissect the findings from the report and share their perspectives on how these trends will impact fraud fighters in 2024. Register Now!

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About BioCatch

BioCatch stands at the forefront of digital fraud detection, pioneering behavioral biometric intelligence grounded in advanced cognitive science and machine learning. BioCatch analyzes thousands of user interactions to support a digital banking environment where identity, trust, and ease coexist. Today, more than 28 of the world's leading 100 banks and 152 of the largest 500 rely on BioCatch Connect™ to combat fraud, facilitate digital transformation, and grow customer relationships. BioCatch's Client Innovation Board, an industry-led initiative featuring American Express, Barclays, Citi Ventures, HSBC, and National Australia Bank, collaborates to pioneer creative and innovative ways to leverage customer relationships for fraud prevention. With more than a decade of data analysis, 90 registered patents, and unmatched expertise, BioCatch continues to lead innovation to address future challenges. For more information, please visit

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