Just When You Thought You Were Safe…

Ever hear of malvertisements? Reshipper fraud?

I didn’t either, until these two fraudulent practices were discussed during the opening session of the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance Summit 2008, which took place June 4 to 5 in Seattle.

Ever hear of malvertisements? Reshipper fraud?

I didn’t either, until these two fraudulent practices were discussed during the opening session of the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance Summit 2008, which took place June 4 to 5 in Seattle.

In his opening keynote. Craig Spiezle, chairman AOTA and director, Internet security & privacy, Microsoft Corp., explained that while more and more e-mail is authenticated today and online ad revenue and online holiday spending are increasing, “trust continues to be an issue,” he said.

For example, he said malvertisements continues to be a goring trend. Basically, malvertisements are a new breed of Flash ads appearing on Web sites that can infect a PC with viruses or spyware when the user simply views the page they’re loaded into. No clicking required.

“With malvertisements, mail servers or Web servers are being compromised, where consumers see a legitimate ad for something like an auto manufacturer, they click on that ad, and are actually now taken to a deceptive site, and malware is out on the machine,” said Spiezel. “It is unknown to the consumer, site owner and the brand owner of that advertisement…That is a real problem that we are seeing more and more of.”

Reshipping, or postal forwarding, scams was discussed in a session by Tom Donlea, executive director of the Merchant Risk Council, a trade association for supporting merchants in preventing online fraud and promoting secure e-commerce in global online payments.

Donlea explained that these scams involve fraudsters asking individuals through the Internet to repackage stolen goods — frequently consumer electronics — and forward them, often outside the United States. Scammers ask victims to shell out their own shipping charges, and pay reimbursement and compensation with a fake check.

In addition to seeing their own paychecks bounce, those who fall for reshipping scams may be liable for shipping charges and even the cost of goods purchased online with stolen credit cards.

Donlea said the scams usually originate from Vietnam, Nigeria, or Eastern Europe, and they usually target romance sites/chat rooms.

“Interestingly enough, Christian single sites are on patrol for mules as victims,” he said.
In addition, he said that sometimes the scams are presented as at-home job advertisements.

Donlea said the MRC is working with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to talk to individuals who are doing the re-shipping and explaining that their activity is illegal.

“They have claimed several thousand packages, and we are working with the merchant community to return those goods and to establish coordination with the public about how to avoid these scams,” Donlea said.

To create online trust, these issues must be dealt with, and the industry is doing everything it can to make sure these practcies are curbed.

Author: Melissa Campanelli

Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.

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