In today’s digital era, online shopping has become extremely popular. However, it’s crucial to understand that this convenience comes with its own set of risks. Online shopping scams and e-commerce fraud are not isolated incidents but are increasingly prevalent. It’s essential to know how to protect yourself.

Understanding Online Shopping Scams

Online shopping scams involve fraudsters pretending to be legitimate sellers. They create fake websites or post counterfeit ads on genuine retail or popular sites to trick unsuspecting shoppers. These scams exploit the anonymous nature of the internet to steal money and personal information from consumers.

Let’s look at the latest statistics to understand the prevalence of e-commerce scams.

  • Phishing scams comprised 43% of e-commerce fraud incidents in 2022 and remain a significant threat. In 2023, 43% of global e-commerce merchants reported phishing attacks as the most common fraud.
  • Card Testing scams have been a major issue, with a significant increase reported in 2023 and 2024.
  • In 2022, friendly fraud scams accounted for 31% of losses related to new account creation, purchase transactions, and account logins.
  • Chargeback fraud scams accounted for 31% of e-commerce losses in 2023 and continue to be a significant problem in 2024.
  • Account takeover scams have been on the rise, with a 307% increase between 2019 and 2021, which continued in 2023 and 2024.
  • Scammers exploit return policies to claim refunds while keeping the products. In 2023, 53% of e-commerce merchants reported increased refund abuse.
  • In 2022, 30% of global e-commerce merchants reported coupon abuse as a significant scam type.
  • North America accounts for the highest fraudulent transaction value globally, with 42% of e-commerce fraud by value occurring in 2023.
  • In 2023, over 85% of online merchants in Germany and France reported experiencing fraud attempts.
  • E-commerce fraud in Latin America results in a 20% revenue loss, with 3.7% of all e-commerce orders being fraudulent.
  • The Asia Pacific region, including Southeast Asia, has seen a 570% increase in e-commerce market size since 2016. However, this growth has come with a corresponding rise in fraud. In 2023, each fraudulent transaction cost merchants in this region approximately $4, leading to around 5% lost revenue annually.

How Scammers Operate

Scammers use various techniques to make their fake sites look credible:

  • Sophisticated Designs: They create professional-looking websites that mimic legitimate online retail stores.
  • Stolen Logos: They use logos and branding from well-known retailers to create a false sense of trust.
  • Synonymous Domain Names: Their websites often have domain names that closely resemble those of authentic retailers, making it hard for consumers to spot the difference.

In 2022, over 60,000 potential scams involving 26 popular brands were reported just before major holidays, signaling a significant rise in fake sites during peak shopping. In 2023, the FBI reported a notable increase in counterfeit online stores, especially during the holiday season, with the number of such scams climbing by over 50%[1].

Read More: Navigating the Deepfake Phishing: Understanding and Combating AI-Enabled Phishing

What Products Are Usually Involved?

Luxury items such as branded clothing, jewelry, and consumer gadgets are commonly involved in online shopping scams. These products are often advertised at unrealistically low prices. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. In many cases, consumers either receive counterfeit goods or nothing at all.

Payment Methods Preferred by Scammers

Specific payment methods can indicate a scam. Be wary if a seller insists on the following:

  • Money Orders
  • Pre-loaded Money Cards
  • Wire Transfers
  • Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin

Scammers prefer these methods because they are hard to trace and typically offer no recourse for recovering lost funds. Instead, secure payment services like credit cards or UPIs provide buyer protection.

The Role of Social Media

Social media platforms have become a popular tool for scammers to set up fake online stores. These stores often sell counterfeit branded goods and disappear after making a few sales. To avoid falling victim to these scams, it’s crucial to be cautious and discerning:

  • Search for Reviews: Before purchasing from a new or unknown seller, look for reviews and feedback from other customers.
  • Be Cautious of New Stores: Newly established stores selling products at meager prices should raise red flags.

Spotting Fake Traders

Fake traders often exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Immediate Payment Demands: They insist on immediate payment, often through insecure methods.
  • Low-Priced Products: They offer products at prices significantly lower than market value.
  • Lack of Information: Their websites or social media pages provide limited information about delivery policies, return policies, and contact details.

In 2023, a staggering 30% of global e-commerce merchants identified coupon abuse as a significant type of fraud. Fraudsters employ numerous fake accounts to take advantage of promotional offers meant for single use, causing considerable financial damage to large e-commerce businesses[2].

Read More: The Hidden Dangers of Sharing Private Photos on Social Media

Battling Bots: The Hidden Threats of In-App Fraud in E-Commerce

Using botnets enables large-scale fraudulent activities, from placing bulk orders to scraping websites for pricing information. In 2023, botnet-related fraud represented 19% of e-commerce fraud incidents[3]. Major e-commerce platforms are particularly vulnerable due to their high traffic and extensive product offerings. Let’s delve into the various methods through which these malicious bots can inflict harm.

  • Mimic User Behavior: The adaptable bots can sign up, interact with content, create accounts, and add items to the cart, mimicking legitimate user behavior.
  • Create Spam Accounts: They can generate fake accounts for fraudulent activities like spamming or spreading malware.
  • Hack User Accounts: They can attempt to steal data during logins or manipulate payment systems for carding (testing stolen credit card numbers).
  • Collect Product and Pricing Information: Competitors can use bots to monitor prices and product ranges.
  • Product and Promo Scalping: Bots can buy discounted or in-demand items, such as limited edition sneakers or popular electronics, to resell at higher prices.
  • Login Attacks: They primarily steal data during user logins to access personal information.
  • Delivery Interception: Bots can manipulate delivery addresses to intercept packages.
  • DDoS Attacks: Bots can overwhelm servers with traffic, disrupting service.
  • Fake Reviews: Bots can inundate platforms with fake product reviews, potentially damaging the reputation of your products and services.

Protecting Yourself from Scams

To protect themselves from e-commerce scams, consumers should:

  • Use Secure Payment Methods: Always use payment services that offer protection, like UPI, credit cards, or PayPal.
  • Warnings Against Using Virtual Currencies: Virtual currencies like Bitcoin offer advantages but have significant e-commerce risks. Concerns include a lack of protection and irreversible transactions. It’s wise to think carefully before using virtual currencies for online transactions.
  • Avoiding Up-Front Payment Arrangements: Be cautious of upfront payments via money order, wire transfer, or electronic currency, especially with strangers. Scammers often use these methods because they are difficult to trace. Opt for secure payment methods with fraud protection.

Read More: Unpacking Stock Investment Scams – Tactics and Safeguards

Protecting Your Personal and Financial Information

Remember to safeguard your information:

  • Never share money, credit card, or online account details with strangers.
  • Use strong, unique passwords and enable two-factor authentication.
  • Monitor your bank and credit card statements regularly.
  • Consider using a security system like K7 Ultimate Security for enhanced protection. Stay informed to defend against scams and ensure secure online shopping.

Verify Retailer Legitimacy: Research retailers, especially new or unknown sellers, before purchasing.

Be Cautious with Personal Information: Never share personal or financial information with unverified sources.

Look for Reviews: Check for reviews and customer feedback to gauge the retailer’s reliability.


Online shopping offers unparalleled convenience, but it also comes with risks. Consumers can protect themselves from scams and fraud by staying informed and vigilant. Use secure payment methods, verify the legitimacy of retailers, and be cautious with personal information to enjoy a safe online experience.

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