Security & Fraud

Tracking The Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Of Digital Fraud

online dating scams

Of all the dirty rotten scandalous schemes fraudsters get up to, one of the worst is the old “lonely hearts” scam, dressed up in smartphone attire. Dating websites and apps in the Netherlands have had a spate of this type of fraud in recent years, with victims handing over $4.1 million to imaginary lovers in 2019, at an average individual loss of (brace yourself) about $16,000 USD.

If that doesn’t break your heart, immediately check to see that you have one.

Online dating is lousy with, well, louses, as we learn from the February 2020 Digital Fraud Tracker®, a DataVisor collaboration. It’s just as bad stateside, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) concluding that Americans got taken for over $200 million via internet romance ruses last year alone. In fact, the FTC says online dating owns the dubious distinction of being the most commonly reported type of con for two years running.

Love gone wrong is just one of the cyber-swindles catalogued in the latest Digital Fraud Tracker®, including this one: Google itself had to indefinitely suspend all paid commercial extensions to the Chrome browser in January 2020 after its Chrome Store was infiltrated “at scale” and fraudulent charges began appearing, Google said in a statement. Is no one safe?

Trust Takes a Hit

Taken separately, fraud incidents are infuriating and more than a little scary. But speaking of scale, global fraud has the ability to impede commerce at scale as well. People transact less as they begin distrusting commerce channels and/or the payments process. Multiply that by the millions of people and companies recently stung by fraud, and businesses take a major hit.

As noted in the latest Digital Fraud Tracker®, “Fraudsters can perpetrate infinite kinds of attacks across an array of platforms. Retail fraud attempts have doubled year over year and tripled since 2017, for example, while account takeover (ATO) fraud losses recently hit $14.7 billion. Phishing attacks and ransomware are also popular, with the former now constituting 30 percent of all fraud attempts and the latter hitting more than 50 municipalities during the first half of 2019.”

The legitimate world is on the offensive, as you would expect. The market for anti-fraud software “… was valued at USD 13.59 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach USD 31.15 billion by 2024,” according to MarketWatch. It’s high-tech, high stakes, high-priced hide-and-seek.

“The very characteristics that make cloud-based services so appealing, such as speed, accessibility and ease of use, are the very same qualities that make user accounts associated with these services so vulnerable,” DataVisor CEO and Co-Founder Yinglian Xie told PYMNTS. “Fortunately, advanced UML-powered fraud solutions can offer comprehensive protection for the entire customer account lifecycle.”

Go Hack Yourself

As bleak as the situation can appear, success stories are out there and have been gathered together in the February Digital Fraud Tracker®. The new report profiles file hosting firm Dropbox, the forms of cyberattack it routinely experiences, and how they’re fended off.

The report gets into specifics, noting, “Dropbox’s digital fraud defense has three prongs: automated tools, extensive education efforts and dedicated response teams that combat any online threat — and the company has seen some creative attempts.”

Creative, yes. But not unbeatable. In addition to inviting white hat hackers to try and defeat its defenses, Dropbox is constantly testing for weaknesses. “We work with our larger customers by going in and providing training for their employees,” Rajan Kapoor, director of security at Dropbox, told PYMNTS. “For those customers, we also offer single sign-in services so that they can bring their own identity management solution. [These services are] a great way to help protect your employees from attackers coming through with leaked credentials or passwords.”

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