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Common Fraud In E-Commerce

The rapid growth of e-commerce has provided a convenient and accessible platform for businesses and consumers to buy and sell goods and services. However, this has also led to a surge in fraudulent activities targeting both parties. From credit card fraud to phishing schemes, the e-commerce landscape is riddled with potential risks that could result in financial losses, damaged reputations, and eroded trust in online transactions. Understanding the common types of e-commerce fraud is essential for businesses and consumers to take necessary precautions and protect themselves.

Fraud in e-commerce is a significant concern for both businesses and consumers. Here are some common types of e-commerce fraud:

Type Of Fraud

  1. Credit card fraud: This involves using stolen or counterfeit credit card information to make unauthorized purchases. Cybercriminals may obtain this information through data breaches, phishing attacks, or skimming devices.
  2. Account takeover fraud: This occurs when a fraudster gains access to a customer’s e-commerce account, often using phishing or other social engineering techniques. They then make unauthorized purchases or change account information.
  3. Friendly fraud (chargeback fraud): This occurs when a customer makes a legitimate purchase and later disputes the charge with their credit card company, claiming the transaction was unauthorized or that the product was never delivered. The merchant may then be forced to refund the customer, losing both the product and the revenue.
  4. Refund fraud: In this type of fraud, the scammer impersonates a customer and requests a refund for a purchase they never made. They may provide fake or doctored receipts to convince the merchant of the transaction’s legitimacy.
  5. Fake stores and phishing websites: Scammers create fake e-commerce websites or online stores to collect payment and personal information from unsuspecting customers. The products offered are never delivered, and the customer’s financial information may be used for further fraud.
  6. Triangulation fraud: In this type of fraud, a scammer creates a fake online store that offers discounted products. When a customer makes a purchase, the scammer uses stolen credit card information to buy the same product from a legitimate retailer and have it shipped to the customer. The scammer pockets the price difference.
  7. Reshipping scams: Fraudsters recruit individuals, often unwittingly, to receive and repackage stolen goods for shipment, typically to another country. The person recruited for this task is called a “mule” and may be unaware of their role in the fraud scheme.

To protect themselves, e-commerce businesses and consumers should employ strong security measures such as multi-factor authentication, secure payment gateways, and monitoring transactions for signs of fraud. Additionally, customers should be cautious about sharing personal information online and should only shop on reputable websites.

Credit Card Fraud


Credit card fraud is a prevalent and sophisticated type of financial crime that occurs when an individual or group of individuals use stolen or counterfeit credit card information to make unauthorized purchases or transactions. This type of fraud can take various forms and be executed through different means, as described below:

Data Breaches

Cybercriminals can gain access to credit card information by hacking into the databases of e-commerce websites, financial institutions, or other organizations that store sensitive data. Once they have this information, they can use it for unauthorized purchases or sell it on the dark web.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing is a social engineering technique in which the fraudster poses as a legitimate entity (e.g., a bank, an online retailer, or a service provider) to trick individuals into revealing their credit card details. This is usually done through email or text messages containing links to fake websites designed to capture personal and financial information.

Skimming Devices

These are small, electronic devices installed on card readers at ATMs, gas stations, or point-of-sale terminals to steal credit card information during transactions. When a customer swipes their card, the skimmer captures the card’s data, which can then be used to create counterfeit cards or facilitate unauthorized transactions online.

Card-Not-Present (CNP) Fraud

This type of fraud occurs when the fraudster uses stolen credit card information to make online or phone transactions where a physical card is not required. CNP fraud has become more prevalent with the growth of e-commerce, as it is easier for cybercriminals to remain anonymous and avoid detection.

Counterfeit Cards

Fraudsters can create counterfeit credit cards using stolen card data, either by encoding the information on a magnetic stripe or embedding it into a chip. These fake cards can then be used to make unauthorized in-person transactions.

Account Takeover

This type of fraud involves a fraudster gaining access to a victim’s credit card account, typically through phishing or other social engineering tactics. Once they have control over the account, they can make unauthorized transactions or even request new cards.

To combat credit card fraud, individuals should regularly monitor their account statements for suspicious activity, use strong and unique passwords for online accounts, and be cautious when sharing personal information online. Merchants and financial institutions can implement security measures such as multi-factor authentication, fraud detection systems, and secure payment gateways to help prevent unauthorized transactions.

Account Takeover Fraud


Account takeover fraud is a form of identity theft in which a fraudster gains unauthorized access to a victim’s e-commerce or other online accounts. Once the attacker has control over the account, they can carry out various fraudulent activities, such as making unauthorized purchases, changing account information, or even stealing sensitive personal data. The methods used by fraudsters to perpetrate account takeover fraud include:


Fraudsters often use phishing emails, texts, or messages on social media platforms to deceive victims into revealing their login credentials. These messages typically mimic legitimate communications from well-known companies or financial institutions and contain links to fake websites designed to capture the victim’s account information.


Malicious software, such as keyloggers, can be installed on a victim’s computer or device to record and transmit their login credentials to the attacker. Malware is often distributed through email attachments, infected software downloads, or malicious websites.

Credential Stuffing

In this method, cybercriminals use automated tools to test stolen login credentials from one site against multiple other sites, hoping to find a match. This technique is particularly effective when people reuse passwords across multiple accounts.

Social Engineering

Fraudsters can use various social engineering techniques, such as impersonating customer support representatives or other trusted individuals, to trick victims into providing their account information or otherwise facilitating unauthorized access to their accounts.

Data Breaches

Account takeover fraud can also result from data breaches, where cybercriminals obtain login credentials, personal information, or other sensitive data by hacking into a company’s database. To protect themselves from account takeover fraud, individuals should take several precautions:


Use strong, unique passwords, by combining letters, numbers, and, symbols for each online account and update them regularly.


Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible to add an extra layer of security.

Suspicious Link

Be cautious when clicking on links in emails, text messages, or social media, especially if the sender is unknown or the message is unexpected.

Monitor Account Activity

Regularly monitor account activity for suspicious transactions or changes in personal information.


Keep devices and software up to date with the latest security patches and use reputable antivirus software.

Businesses can also take steps to protect their customers from account takeover fraud by implementing strong security measures, such as MFA, risk-based authentication, and real-time transaction monitoring. Additionally, businesses should educate their customers about the importance of online security and the potential risks associated with account takeover fraud.

Friendly Fraud (Chargeback Fraud)


Friendly fraud, also known as chargeback fraud, is a deceptive practice in which a customer disputes a legitimate charge with their credit card company or bank, resulting in a chargeback. This type of fraud can be detrimental to merchants, as they may lose both the product and revenue from the sale and may also incur additional fees and penalties associated with the chargeback process. There are several reasons a customer may commit friendly fraud:

Buyer’s Remorse

A customer may experience regret after making a purchase and decide to dispute the charge rather than return the item through the merchant’s standard return process.

Financial Difficulties

Customer-facing financial hardships may resort to disputing charges to avoid paying for items they have legitimately purchased.


Customers may genuinely not recognize a transaction on their statement, or they might think that they were charged twice for the same purchase.

Unmet Expectations

If a customer feels that a product or service did not meet their expectations, they might dispute the charge rather than address the issue with the merchant directly.

Family Members Or Friends

Sometimes, a family member or friend may make a purchase using the cardholder’s account without their knowledge, leading the cardholder to dispute the charge as unauthorized. To minimize the risk and avoiding friendly fraud, merchants can take the following steps:

Clear Description

Provide clear and detailed product descriptions, images, and customer reviews to help ensure customers have accurate expectations of the items they are purchasing.

Excellent Customer Service

Offer excellent customer service and easy-to-understand return policies to encourage customers to resolve any issues directly with the merchant.

Billing Statement

Use recognizable merchant names on billing statements to help customers easily identify the source of the charge.

Customer Signature

Require customers to provide a signature for delivery confirmation, especially for high-value items, to minimize disputes related to non-delivery.

Fraud Prevention Tools

Implement fraud prevention tools, such as address verification and customer authentication, to ensure that transactions are legitimate.


Maintain clear and open communication with customers throughout the entire transaction process, including sending confirmation emails and providing shipment tracking information.

Review Transaction

Monitor and analyze transaction data to identify patterns or trends that may suggest friendly fraud.

By taking these proactive measures, merchants can help reduce the occurrence of friendly fraud, protecting their businesses from financial losses and maintaining their reputation with customers and financial institutions.

Refund Fraud


Refund fraud is a deceptive practice in which a scammer poses as a customer and requests a refund from a merchant for a purchase they never made or a product they never received. To create the illusion of a legitimate transaction, the fraudster may use fake or doctored receipts, altered order confirmations, or manipulated shipping information. This type of fraud can result in financial losses for merchants and can damage their reputation with customers and payment processors. Refund fraud can take several forms, such as:

Return Fraud

In this scenario, the scammer returns a counterfeit or stolen item to a retailer, claiming it was purchased from their store. They then request a refund, often in the form of store credit or a gift card.


The fraudster convinces the merchant to issue a refund that is greater than the original purchase price, often by claiming they were overcharged or incurred additional costs related to the purchase.


In this type of refund fraud, the scammer requests a refund from both the merchant and their credit card issuer, resulting in a double reimbursement for a single purchase. To protect themselves from refund fraud, merchants can implement the following strategies:

Establish Clear And Consistent Refund Policies

Clearly outline the terms and conditions for refunds, including timeframes, required documentation, and acceptable return conditions. Communicate these policies to customers and train employees on how to handle refund requests.

Verify Purchase Details

Before processing a refund, confirm the transaction details using the original order information and payment records. Look for discrepancies in dates, amounts, or customer information that may indicate fraud.

Require Proof Of Purchase

Ask for a valid receipt or order confirmation as evidence of the transaction. This can help deter scammers who use fake or doctored receipts.

Track Returns And Refunds

Monitor and analyze return and refund data to identify patterns or trends that may suggest fraudulent activity. This can help businesses detect refund fraud early and take appropriate action.

Use Technology

Implement fraud detection tools and software to automatically flag suspicious refund requests, allowing for further investigation before processing the refund.

Train Employees

Educate employees on the signs of refund fraud and ensure they understand the company’s policies and procedures for handling suspicious refund requests.

By adopting these proactive measures, merchants can reduce their vulnerability to refund fraud, safeguarding their finances and maintaining trust with customers and payment processors.

Fake Stores And Phishing Websites


Fake stores and phishing websites are fraudulent online platforms designed to deceive unsuspecting customers into sharing their personal and financial information or making payments for products that will never be delivered. These scams can lead to financial losses, identity theft, and a loss of trust in online shopping for consumers. Scammers create these fake e-commerce websites by:

Mimicking Legitimate Websites

Fraudsters often design their fake websites to resemble well-known, reputable online stores or use URLs that are very similar to those of legitimate businesses, making it difficult for customers to recognize the deception.

Offering Too-Good-To-Be-True Deals

Scammers lure customers with enticing offers, such as extremely low prices, limited-time discounts, or exclusive products, which create a sense of urgency and encourage impulsive purchases.

Displaying Fake Security Badges And Trust Seals

To gain customers’ trust, scammers may display counterfeit security badges, trust seals, or SSL certificates that suggest the site is secure and reputable.

Using Social Media For Promotion

Fraudsters may create fake social media accounts and advertise their fake stores using sponsored posts, targeted ads, or fake reviews and testimonials. To protect themselves from fake stores and phishing websites, these are some tips consumers should do:

Verify The Website’s Legitimacy

Look for signs of a secure website, such as a padlock icon in the address bar and an “https://” prefix in the URL. Additionally, check for clear contact information, return policies, and terms and conditions.

Conduct Independent Research

Search for customer reviews, ratings, or complaints about the website or store to gauge its reputation. Be cautious of newly created websites or those with very few or overwhelmingly positive reviews, as they may be fake.

Be Skeptical Of Unbelievable Deals

If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Compare prices with other reputable retailers and consider the likelihood of such a significant discount.

Use Secure Payment Methods

Opt for payment options that offer buyer protection, such as credit cards or third-party payment services like PayPal. Avoid using direct bank transfers or sharing sensitive financial information via email.

Keep Devices And Software Up-To-Date

Regularly update your devices, browser, and security software to protect against phishing attempts and other online threats.

Report Suspicious Websites

If you come across a fake store or phishing website, report it to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US, or your country’s consumer protection agency.

By being cautious and vigilant when shopping online, consumers can minimize the risk of falling victim to fake stores and phishing websites, ensuring a safe and secure e-commerce experience.

Triangulation Fraud


Triangulation fraud is a complex and sophisticated form of e-commerce fraud that involves a three-way interaction between the scammer, the unsuspecting customer, and the legitimate retailer. The scammer creates a fake online store offering discounted products to attract customers. When a customer makes a purchase, the fraudster uses stolen credit card information to buy the same product from a legitimate retailer and have it shipped directly to the customer. The scammer then pockets the difference in price between the amount paid by the customer and the cost of the item at the legitimate retailer. The primary steps in a triangulation fraud scheme are:

Create A Fake Online Store

The scammer sets up an attractive online store, often mimicking the design of legitimate websites, offering popular products at discounted prices.

Attract Customers

The fraudster promotes the fake store through social media, sponsored ads, or other marketing channels to lure unsuspecting customers.

Obtain Stolen Credit Card Information

The scammer acquires stolen credit card information through methods such as data breaches, phishing attacks, or purchasing the information on the dark web.

Process Customer Orders

When a customer places an order in a fake store, the scammer uses stolen credit card information to purchase the same item from a legitimate retailer.

Ship Products To Customers

The fraudster provides the customer’s shipping address to the legitimate retailer, who then ships the product directly to the customer.

Profit From The Price Difference

The scammer profits from the difference between the discounted price paid by the customer and the actual cost of the item from the legitimate retailer.

Triangulation fraud is particularly challenging to detect and combat because the customer receives the product they ordered, and the legitimate retailer processes a seemingly valid transaction. However, businesses and consumers can take steps to protect themselves from such fraud:

For Consumers

Be cautious when shopping on unfamiliar websites, and verify the legitimacy of online stores before making a purchase. Look for clear contact information, secure payment methods, and customer reviews or ratings.

For Retailers

Implement robust fraud detection and prevention systems to identify suspicious transactions or patterns that may indicate the use of stolen credit card information.

For Both Businesses And Consumers

Stay informed about common e-commerce fraud schemes and share information with others to increase awareness and prevention.

By understanding the mechanics of triangulation fraud and remaining vigilant, businesses and consumers can reduce the likelihood of falling victim to this type of scam and help maintain a secure e-commerce environment.

Reshipping Scams


Reshipping scams, also known as parcel mule scams, involve fraudsters recruiting individuals to receive, repackage, and ship stolen goods, often to another country. The individuals recruited for this task, referred to as “mules,” may be unaware of their involvement in the fraud scheme, believing they are working for a legitimate business as a package handler or shipping assistant. The reshipping scam process generally involves the following steps:


Fraudsters target potential mules through online job postings, social media ads, or unsolicited emails, offering an opportunity to work from home as a package handler, shipping assistant, or similar role.

Stolen Goods

The scammer uses stolen credit card information or other fraudulent methods to purchase high-value items from online retailers, often targeting electronics, designer clothing, or luxury goods.

Shipment To Mules

The purchased items are shipped to the recruited mules’ addresses, who are instructed to repackage the goods and prepare them for shipment.


The mules are provided with shipping labels and instructed to send the repackaged items, typically to another country or a domestic address associated with the fraudster.

Profiting From The Scam

The fraudster receives the shipped goods and either keeps them for personal use or sells them, often on black markets or through online platforms, for a profit.

Reshipping scams not only cause financial losses for retailers and credit card holders but can also result in legal trouble for the mules, as they may be held responsible for handling stolen goods or participating in fraudulent activities. To avoid becoming a victim of a reshipping scam, individuals should:

Be Cautious

Be cautious of unsolicited job offers or work-from-home opportunities that involve receiving and shipping packages. Legitimate businesses typically have formal hiring processes and do not recruit via unsolicited emails or social media messages.


Research the company offering the job and verify its legitimacy. Check for a valid business address, contact information, and online presence, such as a professional website or social media account.


Be skeptical of job offers that promise high pay for minimal work or do not require an interview, background check, or other standard hiring procedures.


Avoid providing personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, or copies of identification documents, to unknown individuals or organizations.


If you suspect you may be involved in a reshipping scam, cease all activities related to the job, report the situation to your local law enforcement or consumer protection agency, and monitor your credit reports for any signs of identity theft.

By staying vigilant and exercising caution when considering work-from-home opportunities, individuals can protect themselves from becoming unwitting participants in reshipping scams and avoid the legal and financial consequences associated with these fraudulent schemes.

In conclusion, the widespread adoption of e-commerce has its drawbacks, with fraud being a significant concern for both businesses and consumers. Being aware of the various types of fraud and implementing strong security measures can help minimize the risks associated with online transactionsEveryone involved in e-commerce must remain vigilant and proactive in safeguarding their personal and financial information. By fostering a secure online environment, businesses can maintain customer trust, and consumers can continue to enjoy the convenience and benefits that e-commerce offers. Join our coaching program for more information about e-commerce.

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