When a deal’s too good to be true, weeelll…. Just when you thought buying fake Nikes, Chanel and Apple gadgets was your #1 problem on the Internet of Things, meet: triangulation fraud. Nope, not consumer extortion by UK power companies. Picture this: chatty coworkers have prompted your search for noise-cancelling headphones. 🎧 You spot a sweet deal, buy it, receive it and life’s good. Weeelll… you might’ve been played, and may not be the only loser. So who else is being caught in the ecommerce fraud game, last year worth an estimated US$6.4 billion - up 140%?
This shady side of money making starts with a fraudster creating a merchant account so their business appears legit, perhaps using Stripe, Paypal (PYPL), Block (SQ) or Amazon Pay (AMZN). Next they upload killer deals that undercut the competition, say on eBay (EBAY), Alibaba (BABA - ADR) or Amazon. You purchase your deal, they keep your money. 🛒 Meanwhile, the fraudster places an actual order with the actual merchant that ships your swag using someone else’s credit card (bought for about $1 each). So… everyone’s a ‘winner’? 💳
Nope. And this fraud could ping you twice. Your honestly entered Visa (V), MasterCard (MA) or Amex (AXP) digits could be skimmed then added to a list that’s sold or used again. So who else loses? If your card’s been used for triangulation fraud, with your Carmen Sandiego sleuth skills, you’ll need to spot stuff you didn’t buy on your credit card statement. 🔍 Then alert your card company - one possibly poised to make money in an exponentially cashless world - who repays your money, then charges back to the legit seller who sent the goodies that were bought fraudulently. 🤯
But because triangulation fraud is skimming a little bit at a time, neither the credit card companies nor legit sellers have ‘enough skin in the game’ to shut it down. Your best bet? When a deal’s too good to be true, it probably is.