Although the Black Friday shopping frenzy has already begun in some parts of the world, million of consumers are still updating online shopping and wish lists in anticipation of 2023’s best shopping deals.
Between hefty discounts that can save you good money, Black Friday sales events make a highly profitable playground for cybercrooks seeking to siphon some of the billion-dollar profits.
The online hazards that await consumers on Black Friday are endless, with scammers reaching out to targets via emails, texts and social media. Some scams are dead giveaways, while more ‘hard-working’ cyber thieves aim to deliver more sophisticated ruses to eager online shoppers.
Millions of individuals fall victim to scams every year, but pre-Christmas season sales are the busiest times for cybercriminals.
In the past couple of weeks, researchers at Bitdefender Antispam Lab have been relentless in monitoring Black Friday spam volumes to keep you informed about relevant email-based scams so you can safeguard your money and data.
Unsolicited Black Friday emails (spam) come in all shapes and sizes, including benign unsolicited correspondence (brick-and-mortar marketing emails meant to attract shoppers).
But we’re not here to talk about aggressive marketing schemes that end in your inbox, presumably, by the dozen, during peak sales times.
In this article, courtesy of Bitdefender Antispam Lab, we would like to address the email-based threats (scams) exploiting the buzz surrounding Black Friday.
With the help of our antispam researcher Viorel Zavoiu, we’ve compiled some interesting stats for Black Friday scam topics and trends adopted by fraudsters this year.
Here’s what we found:
Armed with years of experience, scammers continue to target enthusiastic but unaware consumers with an assortment of “amazing deals” to steal identities and commit fraud.
The 2023 scam agenda looks similar to the one from 2022, as cybercrooks stick to their old tricks, recycling bait they know works. A large chunk of Black Friday scams received by internet users in the past weeks sought to lure recipients with opportunities to claim exclusive early Black Friday deals, promotions and free gift cards or prizes from popular retailers.
Some of the email scams also showed clear signs of fraudsters using geo-targeting tools to tailor their attacks to specific locations, while others were geo-restricted (e.g. emails impersonating Lidl and Aldi’s), meaning that cybercriminals restricted access to websites based on the location of the targeted recipients.
To give you an example, scams sent to Spanish shoppers were geo-restricted to IP addresses in Spain. Some of the fraudulent emails also contained poison text or long blocks of usually hidden text meant to defeat keyword-based spam-filtering software.
As mentioned, the Black Friday fraud portfolio of 2023 contains a never-ending list of giveaway scams purportedly sent from well-known names in the consumer staples sector. The main objective of the fraudulent emails is to steal the recipient's personal information and payment card data through bogus surveys and fake prizes (golf carts, smart gadgets, $1,000 gift cards and kitchen appliances) that require small shipping fees.
Popular email subjects include:
Scam samples can be found below:
The holiday shopping season is prime time for cybercrime. Don’t let your guard down, and stick to good cyber hygiene to fend off malicious and fraudulent shopping links you may unknowingly access this month.
Check out our dedicated guide for safe Black Friday and Cyber Shopping, here.
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