Scammers take advantage of supply chain issues with fake websites

As supply chain issues disrupt the holiday shopping season, scammers are making matters worse by taking advantage of these challenges with fake websites.

A new Bankrate survey found that 77% of American adults said they had problems purchasing products, with almost half of those being out-of-stock or out-of-stock items. The crooks are aware of these issues as they approach their big season.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions CEO Haywood Talcove said the company has seen a 2,000% increase in the number of consumers who say they have lost money to scammers masquerading as legitimate online retailers. The increase, which he says is due to persistent supply chain problems, amounts to more than 5,000 bogus sites, down from just about 100 earlier this year.

“When you go to some big box stores – be it Walmart, Amazon, Best Buy – they don’t have the toy you want in stock and you google it. Then you find this really boutique business that’s offering the bike your daughter wants and you’re like, ‘You know what? I’m going to get it, ”Talcove told CBS News consumer survey correspondent Anna Werner.

But the site turns out not to be a real business, he said.

“It’s a front for a transnational criminal group,” Talcove said.

Jayce Leninger, a high school student from Iowa, is among the victims. When the Billie Eilish fan decided to buy himself a birthday present from some of the singer’s new products, he went to what looked like her bona fide website.

Leninger said he bought a “pack” he saw on Instagram for $ 100. But when the transaction reached his bank account, he said, it showed some $ 79, which he found suspicious.

“And so after that I started looking at the website, looking for reviews on the website, and there are over 1000 people looking at this website saying it’s a scam:” N ‘don’t buy. I don’t have my business for six months, ”Leninger said.

The discovery came a little too late.

“Well, I don’t have the merchandise or my money,” he said.

Dave Hollister, of the Secret Service Cyber ​​Fraud Task Force, said bogus sites tend to be launched from overseas and are getting more sophisticated.

“They learn as they go, just like you and I. It’s their job,” Hollister said.

A close examination of the sites often reveals tricks, he said, including misspellings, grammar mistakes, links that don’t work and a refusal to accept credit cards.

“These websites will often only ask for payment through a transfer service such as PayPal, Venmo, Zelle… And it is most likely almost impossible for the consumer to get their money back,” Hollister said.

“It’s like a virus. It spreads. It only stops when consumers stop falling into the trap,” he said.

Talcove, of LexisNexis, estimates that American consumers will be robbed of $ 20 billion by the end of the holiday season.

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