5 most scandalous fraud cases of 2021

Each year always brings a fresh array of fraud-related scandals, and 2021 was no different. The massive theft of COVID-relief funds continued to play out, but other notable schemes hit the headlines. Here we list the most scandalous of the lot.

Enron. Bernie Madoff. 1MDB. Some frauds are so notorious they only need to be mentioned by name. Since 2018, the ACFE, along with the invaluable input of our Advisory Council, has selected the five most scandalous fraud stories of the year based on money lost, lives impacted and relevance to the anti-fraud profession. “Sadly, there are so many to choose from, it’s challenging to limit it just to five,” says ACFE President and CEO Bruce Dorris, J.D., CFE, CPA.

In 2021, a possible end to the COVID-19 pandemic was on the horizon with the introduction of the vaccine, but fraudsters weren’t quite finished bilking it for billions. For the second year in a row, our most scandalous fraud was connected to the pandemic, but there were other fraud stories this year that we believe will live on in infamy and serve as valuable case studies to fraud fighters for years to come. (See “5 most scandalous frauds of 2020,” by Hallie Ayres and Mason Wilder, CFE, Fraud Magazine, January/February 2021.)

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