Full Name
David Smith
Job Title
Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigation Division
Secret Service
Speaker Bio
Special Agent In Charge (SAIC) David M. Smith is originally from Miami, FL and earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Central Florida. He entered the Secret Service as a Special Agent in 2001 and was first stationed in the San Francisco
Field Office. Throughout his almost twenty-year career, SAIC Smith has served in numerous positions and divisions, including the Dignitary
Protective Division, the Presidential Protective Division, the Office of Investigations Special Projects, and the Los Angeles Field Office.
SAIC Smith currently leads the Criminal Investigative Division, his latest role in his almost twenty years at the Secret Service. FY 2020
was an unusual time for not only him or the Secret Service, but for the entire United States as a nation; the COVID-19 pandemic brought
about great uncertainty and changed nearly every facet of life. SAIC Smith’s primary focus early on was to prioritize the health and
wellbeing of the Secret Service workforce. He said once that was settled, his personnel were able to do what they do best: investigate financial crimes.

“COVID did not create new criminals; it just gave them a nice, clean environment to play,” says SAIC David Smith. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans found themselves at home due to rising unemployment and full-time telework. This isolation led to drastically increased time online, which fueled crisis-induced panic and left many Americans concerned for the health and financial wellbeing of
their family and friends. “Any time there is a heightened element of fear, such as with the coronavirus, criminals are going to exploit that.” Scammers are using the coronavirus outbreak and people’s fears to steal their money and personal information.

The types of fraud brought on by COVID-19 have evolved over the past several months. At the beginning of this pandemic, SAIC Smith says the Secret Service investigators saw a spike in “non-delivery scams” that promised medical supplies, such as masks and gloves. With the passage of the CARES Act, new and more lucrative criminal targets were exposed, such as Small Business Administration loans, where fraudsters could net millions of dollars in a single transaction.

In FY 2020, the Secret Service opened 557 investigations related to the pandemic and arrested 38 individuals as a result of these investigations; these numbers continue to grow. Conducting these investigations requires substantial collaboration across federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Small Business
Administration, the Department of the Treasury, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations.

The pandemic impacted Secret Service operations in a variety of ways. In a typical election year, the operational tempo of the protective mission sees a sharp uptick due to additional presidential candidate protectees and increased campaign travel; this has an inverse effect on the agency’s investigative tempo. However, the pandemic curtailed typical campaign year patterns, allowing the Secret Service to increase investigative efforts during this election year, even when compared to non-election years. In FY 2020, Secret Service investigators logged more than 2.4 million hours, up from more than 2.2 million hours in FY 2019, a 9% increase. COVID-19 has also changed how investigations
are conducted, often moving investigation teams from a collaborative office setting to telework status, and what investigations are conducted, shifting the focus further away from counterfeit crimes to cybercrime, such as BECs.

The world around us is changing, and so is the way criminals are conducting their business. So what can individuals do to better protect themselves from becoming victims of financial fraud? SAIC Smith suggests, “You should always verify and then trust. Be skeptical. And keep your personal details to yourself.” Criminals are constantly looking to garner your personally identifiable information from any
and all sources. It is more important than ever to properly safeguard your digital footprint and financial assets, even when it comes at the cost of personal convenience (e.g., two-step authentication and credit freezes). The Secret Service has developed a number of guides and factsheets to help individuals avoid being taken advantage of by criminals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
David Smith