Sorry, mom! I accidentally bought you a stolen gift
Loving your mother shouldn’t be a crime.
This May 14th, criminals will sell an estimated $20 million of stolen merchandise to consumers, according to estimates from fraud detection and protection firm Forter — and millions more in the days leading up to the holiday.
This is a popular time for fraudsters for a couple of reasons: First, it’s a busy time for retailers, so they have more trouble combating the fraud, Forter CEO Michael Reitblat tells Moneyish. And second, it’s easy for criminals to target the products they’re selling towards moms, which makes the criminal process more efficient, he adds.
One of the most popular ways to sell consumers stolen goods is to create real-looking websites that sell these items, Reitblat says. You may find these sites popping up on your social media feed or on ads on legit websites, and they look legit even to a discerning consumer.
One tell-tale sign: A subtle difference in the spelling of the sites name. So if a brand’s name was Catey and its legit site was Catey.com, the fraudulent site might add an “s” to the end of that so it reads Cateys.com. At a quick glance you might not even notice. Or you might come across a brand-new site whose name you’ve never heard of that looks legit. To check that, Reitblat recommends using this browser extension, which gives you an overview, reviews and traffic on a site.
The process can be so smooth that you may not even realize you’ve bought stolen goods once you purchase from the site. Often the fraudsters running these sites purchase legitimate items using stolen credit cards and then sell you those items at a discount; they then get your credit card info when you buy those items and may later use that card to buy more stolen items. However, you won’t know because they often ship you the goods you ordered once you buy them, Reitblat explains — and it may seem that that fraudulent charge on your card is unrelated to that purchase.
Using both historical data and criminal chatter on the dark web, Forter ran an analysis for Moneyish about what are likely to be the stolen items fraudsters are most likely to sell you this Mother’s Day.
Luxury watches and jewelry
Tissot and Kate Spade watches are particularly popular. The fraudsters buy them with stolen cards and then sell them at a roughly 10% discount. One way to protect yourself from buying these shadily obtained goods is to follow this rule: “If the deal seems too good to be true, it often is,” says Reitblat.
“Mother’s Day is the perfect time for a fraudster to set up a new website, offering half-price travel deals and selling them to customers who are happy to find a bargain (without wondering if there’s something fishy, maybe too-good-to-be-true, about the vendor),” Forter notes. “Fraudsters can make a handsome income over Mother’sDay by selling numerous travel packages, accepting payment in cash/PayPal/bitcoin, and fulfilling the orders by booking the rooms on a real vendor’s website and using stolen payment instruments.”
Disneyworld and Disneyland trips
Like travel packages, these kinds of trips are popular gifts for Mother’s Day — and thus popular for fraudsters. You can protect yourself from fraudulent websites hawking stolen goods by doing your homework on the site before you click buy, says Reitblat.
This may seem like a surprising Mother’s Day item, but it speaks to the growing popularity of athleisure, says Reitblat. Fraudsters love these because it’s not uncommon to buy more than one pair at a time [one for mom, one for yourself],” Forter notes.
Higher-end fashion like leather jackets
You’ll often see websites selling things like leather jackets at prices that are 40% of so off, Reitblat explains. Usually a site will sell items that you might not be able to afford for mom at regular prices, but with their huge discounts, you can.
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