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Triangular fraud: Warning of new scams when shopping online | > – Guide

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Triangular fraud: Warning of new scams when shopping online |  > – Guide

As of: February 6, 2024 4:33 p.m

Online shopping scams are not uncommon. Criminals keep trying even bolder scams. Currently circulating: a new variant of the triangle fraud. The police warn.

by Susann Kowatsch

Cell phones, hair dryers or vacuum cleaners at a bargain price – who wants to say no to that? There are always offers like this, especially on platforms like Amazon or Ebay. But behind such offers there can be criminals who are after the buyers’ money. Their latest highlight is a variant of the triangular fraud: While traditional triangular fraud was previously about getting goods, it is now about money.

Fraudsters use customer data to order from a reputable shop

The fraudsters offer popular products at low prices via fake shops or hacked seller accounts. The perfidious thing is that the criminals don’t actually own the items on offer. Once a customer has ordered and paid for the product, they use their address details and order the product on behalf of the buyer from a reputable online shop – a third-party provider. This usually happens on account or with fake account details.

Online customers only become suspicious late

Since the ordered item actually arrives at the buyer as new, the buyer will not have any suspicions for weeks or months. And that is exactly the criminals’ plan and the heart of this scam, says Andreas Mackenthun from the LKA Hamburg. The fraud should be noticed as late as possible. During this time, fraudsters can rip off many more customers and, above all, cover their tracks on the Internet. According to Mackenthun, time plays a big role, especially in Internet investigations, because after just a week many Internet traces can no longer be traced.

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According to Hans-Joachim Henschel from the LKA Lower Saxony, little is known about the perpetrators. They could come from within the country or abroad, act as lone perpetrators or in gangs. They also apparently use anonymization services, third-party accounts or cryptocurrencies to conceal the flow of money.

Fraud often only becomes apparent through debt collection reminders

The reputable third-party provider is meanwhile waiting for his money and initially sends reminders by email, which only reach the fraudster and not the buyer. Only when the third-party provider sends reminders or debt collection letters by post to the buyer’s address does the buyer get wind of the fraud. In the end, the fraud victim ends up as the perpetrator who apparently doesn’t pay his bill.

If the fraud victim wants to keep the delivered goods, they may have to pay for them a second time. A return is also possible. Since the cancellation period has usually already expired or the product has already been used, it depends on the goodwill of the retailer. But even if the platforms and third-party providers waive the demands, there are disadvantages: Andreas Mackenthun from the LKA Hamburg points out that the fraud can ultimately increase the prices overall and then all customers pay more. Companies and platforms usually add losses due to fraud to their prices.

Triangle fraud: How to protect yourself

It is important to pay attention to where and what you order. Be careful, especially when it comes to very cheap offers. Reviews and testimonials online also provide information about whether a dealer is reputable. The consumer advice center’s fake shop finder can also help to identify fraudulent online shops at an early stage. It can also make sense to check the sender of the goods. Is it the seller I ordered from? If an invoice is enclosed even though you have already paid, this could also be an early indication of a triangle fraud.

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Anyone who has fallen for the scam should inform the platform and the third-party provider promptly. The police also strongly recommend that you file a report.

Further information

Buying or selling goods on classified ad portals is popular. But there are scammers out there too. more

Phishing emails, love scamming, false offers: fraud on the Internet is a big problem. When should you be careful? more

Fake online shops are often difficult to distinguish from real ones. This allows consumers to identify dubious providers. more

Comparison portals offer guidance when looking for the best price. But the overview is often incomplete. more

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Market | 02/05/2024 | 8:15 p.m

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