The Fraud Economy continues to experience growth as fraudsters did not slow operations during the pandemic. Always on the prowl, seeking vulnerability and weak links (like the pandemic), these opportunistic bad actors are ready to attack when the coast is clear.
In 2020, experts have reported that as much as 1 Trillion USD had been lost due to cybercrime worldwide.
What Is The Fraud Economy?
The Fraud Economy is made up of a very intricate ecosystem where one type of fraud acts as both a “jumping-off point” and a bridge between other types of fraud.
Cybercriminals have become more sophisticated about the type of market they direct their attack towards and have learned to avoid all security measures set out by fraud teams.
Just like traditional economies, the Fraud Economy employs a variety of levels of skilled labor, dealing with supply and demand, as well as pricing. Fraudsters use “secondary marketplaces” in order to purchase and trade stolen information. Most often this information is found on the dark web.
The Fraud Economy is responsible for initiating content abuse, account takeover, and payment fraud.
Content Abuse…A Formidable Weapon
Content abuse has existed as long as digital businesses have been in operation. Along with online shopping, discussion forums, and social networks, there has been a growing and destructive evolution of attacks. These have been in the form of spam, scams, fake reviews, and misinformation.
The Internet continues to be a sort of wild west or final frontier, with little to no regulation. As a result, just about anyone can sell just about anything. Merchants are largely left to themselves, without any tools or expertise to protect themselves or their customers.
But it doesn’t end with just the content abuse, what happens after one encounters it, now this is where the real trouble begins.
How It Works
Content abuse is just a springboard for fraudsters to engage in payment fraud. How it works is that they will create a post, a comment, an email, or a text message. Within it, they will disguise a “malicious link”.
Another tactic is that they will drive consumers to an unsecured site or media. But the key for it to work is that the consumer must “engage” with that link. They can do so by sharing it, or simply clicking on it themselves. The former action enlarges the pool of potential victims, the latter affects only the one who clicked on the link.
Cybercriminals typically commit account takeover and payment fraud by using stolen data. Then there’s the dark web, also known as the “fraudster flea market”. This is where anyone can buy valuable information from compromised accounts. They can also sell the information they’ve hacked.
Once fraudsters have procured sensitive information via malicious content, it can be used in several ways:
- To coordinate account takeover attacks on a person or group of people to acquire more data
- To supplement information stolen elsewhere via a different attack or purchased via the dark web.
- To steal money, rewards points, gift cards, or other currencies. This data can also be sold on the dark web for a sizable profit.
COVID-19 And Its Contribution To Content Fraud
The global pandemic brought along with it a global economic disruption which opened the door to a surge in content fraud. In fact, a 109% year-over-year increase was seen. Digital e-Commerce merchants continue to be heavily targeted as fraudsters are always seeking opportunities in uncertainty.
Trust and safety teams must work tirelessly to ensure they are adapting their strategies to effectively thwart content fraud.