Online payment fraud increases 208% amid Black Friday season

CYBERSECURITY firm Kaspersky has detected more than 40 million phishing attacks targeting e-commerce and e-shopping platforms, as well as banking institutions during the first 10 months of the year.

While stores rebounded in 2021 after a difficult 18 months and shoppers returned to offline shopping, Kaspersky said its researchers didn’t observe the typical seasonal trends for phishing related to online shopping such as the significant influx of phishing pages with too good to be true sale offers or growth of retail-related scam.

However, it said there is one notable exception. In 2021, the total number of financial phishing attempts targeting e-payment systems more than doubled from September at 627,560 to October at 1,935,905, reflecting a 208 percent increase.

“Indeed, this year we have seen the introduction of new payment systems in various countries due to their unmatched convenience. As consumer adoption has skyrocketed, fraudsters started to actively exploit such systems as a lure to spread malicious activity,” the firm said in its latest “Black Friday 2021: How to Have a Scam-Free Shopping Day” report.

The firm also noted a rise in the number of spam letters detected by its security products. An active spread of spam emails with 221,745 emails containing the words “Black Friday” was spotted during the month amid the sales season from Oct. 27 to Nov. 19.

Kaspersky researchers have also analyzed which popular platforms were used as bait to spread phishing pages. Results showed that Amazon was consistently the most popular lure used when looking at the total number of phishing attempts using its name. For the majority of 2021, the second most popular was eBay, followed by Alibaba and Mercado Libre.

“We always witness intensified scamming activity amid the Black Friday season. Perhaps a bit more unexpected is the attention being paid to e-payment systems. This time, we discovered a huge increase by 208 percent in a number of attacks mimicking the most popular payment systems. Of course, every new payment application is seen by scammers as a new opportunity to potentially exploit users,” said Tatyana Shcherbakova, a security expert at Kaspersky, in a statement.

“In order to protect your data and finances it will be a safe practice to make sure the online payment page is secure: You’ll know it is if the web page’s URL begins with HTTPS instead of the usual HTTP and an icon of a lock will also typically appear beside the URL,” she added