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Cyber Alert: 110,527 ‘Black Friday’ shopping-related scam URLs detected on Rolex, Samsung, travels, others –Report

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*Cybersecurity experts at the Trend Micro Threat Alert report they detected a phishing e-mail impersonating Rolex to lure victims to buy boutique watches with Black Friday sale prices, detecting 424,346 URLs between November 10 and 13, 2023, besides 100,890 Thanksgiving shopping-related scam URLs uncovered in the United States

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Consumers have been urged to watch out for online frauds relating to Black Friday deals in connection with some top brands, including Rolex watches, Samsung electronics, Walmart, and travel bookings, among others in these seasonal periods of the year.

The Trend Micro Threat Alert affirms this is a dangerous season for most digital shoppers because of widespread scams in Cyberspace, agency report said.

Nigeria’s market regulator warns consumers against Black Friday online scams

ConsumerConnect had reported Nigeria’s Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) recently issued an advisory to consumers in the West African country’s digital ecosystem to beware of online scammers.

The FCCPC noted credible intelligence had indicated the customary seasonal sales at deep discount on a specific Friday, otherwise known as ‘Black Friday’, might witness an increase of fake online stores, including scams, misrepresentation and other exploitative conduct during festive seasons.

Mr. Babatunde Irukera, Executive Vice-Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of FCCPC, in an advisory issued November 23, noted period might  witness an increase of fake online stores by 135 percent, including scams, misrepresentation and other exploitative conduct.

According to Irukera, the market information was corroborated by publicly available reports, such as Netcraft.

He, however, urged consumers to be vigilant and discerning in this period and to demand and insist on their rights, particularly with respect to full and transparent disclosures.

“Consumers should only patronise trusted and credible platforms and exercise caution to avoid being victims of fraud and other exploitation,” FCCPC stated.

Trend Micro research team uncovers 110,527 Black Friday shopping-related scam URLs

It was also learnt that between Thanksgiving and Black Friday, consumers who shop online must stay on their toes as the experts at the Consumer Affairs Trend Micro Threat Alert disclosed they identified an increase in scams targeting Thanksgiving shoppers as well as those getting an early start on Black Friday shopping, in the United States.

Between October 1 and November 17, 2023, for instance, the Trend Micro research team noted it found 110,527 Black Friday shopping-related scam URLs in the United States (US), which increased by 66.2 percent, compared to the previous 10 days (October–November 9), with the Year-over-Year (YoY) increase estimated at 12.73 percent.

The research team also detected a phishing e-mail impersonating Rolex to lure victims to buy boutique watches with Black Friday sale prices. The team detected 424,346 URLs between November 10 and 13 this year.

Likewise, from November 1 to November 17, the Trend Micro research team found 100,890 Thanksgiving shopping-related scam URLs in the United States (US), which increased by 12.73 percent, compared to last year, according to report.

The top five states being targeted the most in 2023 in order are Virginia, California, Oregon, Montana and North Carolina in the American country.

In his comments on the development, Jon Clay, Vice-President of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro, stated that it seems to be an annual event – the holidays bring out the scammers.

Clay explained: “The best deals, counterfeit products posing as the real thing, or using rewards to get almost free products are just a few examples of scams that we’re seeing this year.

How to protect yourself from cyberfraudsters in festive seasons

As a measure against consumer protection, Vice-President of Threat Intelligence at Trend Micro also noted: “Stay vigilant and do some basic investigation to ascertain if that deal is real or not.

“If you mostly shop directly on the brand websites and look for their deals there, you’ll be less likely to be scammed.”

Below are a few more that pose a threat to consumers.

Travel scams

Between November 1 and November 17, 2023, the Trend Micro research team detected 655 travel scams in the US, which increased by 133.09 percent compared to last year.

These scams included fake Airbnb and Booking.com log-in portal pages that try to get the credential information from victims.

The five top states being targeted the most in 2023 in order are Washington, Virginia, New Jersey, California and Oregon, report said.

Walmart scams

Bad actors pretend to be Walmart to invite users to buy a Samsung 8K QLED TV with their Walmart+ Rewards to get the TV almost free of charge. This way, scammers try to steal victims’ personal and credit card info.

The top five states being targeted the most in 2023 in order are Texas, Ohio, Florida, Missouri and California,  according to report.

iCloud survey scams

Scammers impersonated Apple to warn users that their cloud storage is full. Scammers push victims to upgrade their subscription plans and fill out a survey to steal their information.

The top five states being targeted the most in 2023 in order are California, Texas, Indiana, Illinois and North Carolina.

Spotify scams

Scammers impersonated Spotify to inform users of a renewal problem with their membership and asked victims to log in to a fake Spotify page to provide their personal information.

The Trend Micro research team detected 533 logs on November 13 this year.

HR department phishing

Bad actors pretend to be HR departments and send phishing emails to tell the email receivers to check the staff employment termination list.

If the victim clicks the hyperlink in the e-mail body, scammers will redirect them to a fake e-mail login page to steal their account information.

The Trend Micro research team found 372 logs on November 11.

“Fortunately, the U.S. government now has a single portal that can get your story to the proper federal authorities,” report stated.

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