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E-COMMERCE SCAMS

Warning that Black Friday and Cyber Monday also attract the scammers

By our News Team | 2021

Rise in online shopping equates to more dubious e-commerce sites that damage consumer confidence and result in lost revenue for businesses.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are becoming increasingly important to African retailers and are, in many instances, the kick-off to the traditional holiday shopping season. 

But as online shopping becomes a bigger part of the African retail equation, so too do e-commerce scams that both damage consumer confidence and result in lost revenue for legitimate businesses.

In the lead-up to this all-important long weekend of shopping, threat-intelligence platform FortiGuard Labs has observed an increased number of scams involving counterfeit websites that appear to be legitimate e-commerce sites. FortiGuard is part of Fortinet, a prominent cybersecurity company.

E-commerce scams

Image by LillyCantabile from Pixabay

It warns that fake e-commerce sites are quickly becoming the latest threat to consumers and cover a wide range of products to lure potential buyers.

“We recently came across a live, active scam that leverages the look and feel of the world’s largest companies and their respective trademarks to compel and lure victims into making purchases from their site,” FortiGuard Labs notes in a blog post.

Dubious sites use the same template

“These sites are in no way affiliated with the trademark/IP owner, and are recognisable in part because they use the same template over and over in a digital game of ‘whack-a-mole’ (meaning that as soon as one site gets shut down, another one immediately pops up somewhere else).”

Among the prominent real-life brands that appear on these scam sites (obviously without their knowledge) are power tool giants Ryobi and Makita, coffee companies Nespresso and Keurig, and camping equipment company Coleman.

FortiGuard Labs says the scam e-commerce websites it has observed have the following characteristics in common:

  • The domain names have only been registered for a few days to a few months.
  • All sites are registered with the same registrar.
  • They use ‘.top’ and ‘.shop’ top-level domains (although ‘.com’ is also common).
  • They use stolen imagery.
  • They contain numerous grammatical errors and inconsistencies in statements.
  • Social Media buttons do not resolve anywhere, or go to accounts that either do not exist or have been deleted.
  • Their web-hosting providers utilise content delivery networks (CDN) to remain anonymous via an IP address that cannot be traced.

According to the website Ecommerce News, quoting international statistics, retail stores now see 30% of all sales occurring from Black Friday through until Christmas. “This marks the actual Black Friday as the day that kicks off the busiest shopping season,” it says.

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