Just another Manic Monday?

In theory the volume of emails hitting our inboxes should start to decrease after today as we see Cyber Monday move into Giving Tuesday and firms scale back their marketing activities. The amount of money spent online this year, thanks to our COVID-induced lockdown, is likely to have hit record levels, coming at a vital time for many retailers. Analysis carried out earlier in the year by Edge Retail suggested that the COVID-effect to retailers could be up to £5 billion.

However, despite the inevitable increase in online spending, the amount of fraud will have increased accordingly. According to Digital Trust and Safety company Sift, the fraud rate (reported attempts of fraud divided by total online transactions) from the start of October to mid-November was nearly 400% up on the same period in 2019. With online transactions spiking for the year over the last four days, it is anticipated that the level of online fraud will be off the scale in 2020.

Whilst organisations such as Action Fraud have active campaigns focused on consumers and the tell-tale signs of scams, the £13.5m worth of fraud last festive period is unfortunately likely to be topped this year. Fraudsters use the same tactics as genuine brands to hook unsuspecting consumers attention and divert their interest, web session and ultimately hard-earned cash from legitimate brands.

Social Media continues to be the easiest method of attracting customers for fraudsters – the more information we share with the networks, the more targeted the scammers ads can be. To give an example, from looking at my posts it is clear I am a football fan. I live in England and so there is a higher chance than average that I may be interested in England’s National Team football merchandise. Which is why I was served with the advert on the right.

This shirt caught my eye as it appears to be manufactured by Under Armour rather than Nike who currently hold the contract as official merchandise supplier to the Football Association. I searched for similar images and found dozens, all identical apart from the two logos on the shirt. So if you were an Irish Rugby fan or an Arsenal fan, you may have seen one of the images below.

The website that is selling these shirts has so many alarm bells that it is surprised any potential customers aren’t deafened on loading, ranging from using the same text for their terms and conditions as many other websites, only offering contact through a webform and a domain name that was registered relatively recently. The return on investment on a social media campaign is relatively low and it only takes a few orders from customers who don’t see the warning signs for them to profit. Of course, capturing personal and financial details from unsuspecting customers is valuable data enough for them.

Whilst the madness of the Black Friday weekend is drawing to a close, it doesn’t mean that the fraudsters will also disappear back into the corners of the dark web. We all need to keep our guard up and make sure that we don’t become part of the problem rather than solution…..and, of course, remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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