Shoppers Beware! Scammers Roll Out New Special Black Friday "Deals" This Holiday Season
Scammers have some old and some new tricks for the coming Black Friday and Cyber Monday again when as usual, millions of retail customers will storm stores and online shops. Cyber security experts have observed a broad range of elaborate scams that will hit people's mailboxes, phones, and devices in the form of fraudulent emails, text messages, or malicious websites. The main objective of phishing attacks is, as always, to acquire sensitive user data that will allow hackers to break into bank accounts and cryptocurrency wallets and subsequently deprive the legitimate owners of all valuable assets stored there.
Researchers have recently reported alarming data - 17% of all malicious files sent out by email in November concern online orders or deliveries, while 4% of all newly registered shopping websites are found to be malicious.
Phishing Attacks Still Prevail the Year-End Scams
Phishing attacks make use of fake websites and fraudulent applications. However, to send the potential victims there, hackers spread vast amounts of “phishing” emails that look like they come from a large retail company. A popular scam this season is to send out emails that mimic a spoofed Amazon order notification. The names and logos of other large retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, or Target may also be misused. For example, some scam messages state that the user is charged a substantial amount by Amazon for a non-existent order and needs to take action to stop the transaction. A link in the email leads to a false Amazon support page with a phone number. If the potential victim calls the given number, nobody would answer; however, later, the scammers would call back and ask for all credit card details, supposedly to cancel the order.
Fraudster emails can, actually, easily be identified: they will likely contain misspellings, bad grammar, the generic “Ms” or “Mr” instead of a user's name; the text will also sound urgent and scary and prompt for immediate action, or promise free stuff, coupons or refunds.
Digital Skimming Stays in the Trend
Another more elaborate scam is digital skimming, also known as a Magecart attack, named after the popular open-source eCommerce platform Magento. That is when fraudsters inject malicious code into a website to collect online payment data. Although it is usually not possible for a regular user to identify websites corrupted in that way, there are some things that users can do to protect themselves:
- Not save credit card data on online shopping sites,
- Enable transaction alerts for their credit cards
- Use a third-party payment method, like Google Wallet, PayPal, or Apple Pay
- Never make online payments when using public WiFi networks.
For the first few months of 2022 only, cyber security researchers have reported over 70,000 online shops that had digital skimmers installed at some point. That number rises to 100,000 if supply chain victims are included.
A New Louis Vuitton Fashion “Sale” Emerged Recently
Another email scam has been observed in the past weeks, known as the “Louis Vuitton” scam. The emails have the subject line “Black Friday Sale. Starts at $100. You’ll Fall In Love With Prices” and go out from the following email address: “email@example.com. “ Two malicious links within the email redirect to the domain: “jo.awojlere.ru.” The scammers here claim to be selling genuine LV jewelry at discounted prices as part of a Black Friday sale. The same fashion brand has also been the subject of several other fake websites with domains like “87off-bags.co”, “89off-bags.co”, “88off-bags.co”, and “86off-bags.co”. All of these fake websites look like the legitimate Louis Vuitton site and reach out to users via email with the subject line: “[black Friday sale] Louis Vuitton bags up to _% off! Shop online now!” These domains have been involved in nearly 15,000 incidents since the end of October.
Also, again a campaign impersonating the well-known delivery company DHL is running this month. The phishing emails come from a webmail address “firstname.lastname@example.org” and pretend to have been sent from “SHIPMENT TRACKING.” A malicious link, “https://lutufedo.000webhostapp.com/key.php,” is attached to the content, and here the attackers aim to steal user credentials by claiming that they needed to pay €1.99 to complete the delivery of a non-existent order.
Other seasonal schemes that surface around year-end are gift exchange schemes like “Secret Sister” or “Secret Santa.” There are also numerous faux charity campaigns, whereby the fraudsters again impersonate in various ways legit charitable institutions to gain the trust of generous givers.
Computer security experts and even many large retail shopping outlets are warning consumers this year to take measures to avoid such scams during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which will not only save them money but the aggravation of attempting to get their money back.