However, social media companies are not the only ones facing this problem. Thus, online sales sites, e-commerce, banks, among others, are also at risk. Why should these organizations be aware of the existence of fake accounts and how can these harm them? Kaspersky fraud prevention experts have highlighted the most common cases:
Theft of bonuses/ gratuities
When a company allocates a budget to its loyalty program, the goal is to attract new customers and establish a mutually beneficial relationship with them. However, these efforts can be marred by fraudsters creating fake accounts.
With $48 trillion in unspent loyalty points accumulated worldwide, criminals are lured in by the potential gains. Many of these programs, like those that offer welcome gifts, are generally simple to sign up for and often aren’t protected by two-factor authentication, which opens up plenty of opportunities for fraud.
Fraudsters can use or resell these welcome offers, promotional codes or other sign-up freebies, or increase their chances of winning a prize in promotions by entering from multiple accounts. Sometimes unofficial resellers can also take advantage of these systems, using a welcome bonus and then reselling it on other sites; this leads to more loyalty program bonus points and potential financial rewards.
Fake accounts are detrimental to buyers who may end up purchasing the item they want without a discount, or even losing the ability to purchase a limited product because it was redeemed. This situation also has a negative effect on merchants and brands, as it undermines customer trust in the brand and neutralizes their marketing activities, which impacts long-established relationships with genuine buyers.
93% of consumers say online reviews impact their buying decisions. So it’s no surprise that fake reviews have become commonplace. This situation can be beneficial for some unscrupulous sellers, but in the long term, it can harm both the sellers and the marketplaces that list the products.
A recent survey revealed that 67% of consumers are concerned about the credibility of reviews and 54% of them would abandon their purchase if they suspected that the product reviews were fake. Any platform allowing the placement of false reviews can also be accused of violating consumer law by the competent authorities.
Financial organizations take the authenticity of their customers’ accounts very seriously, but you can still find fakes. These are “money mules”, accounts used by competitors to launder criminal funds. Although created by real people, they are not used for their intended purpose. They receive illegal funds in their accounts and transfer them to a third party.
Fraudsters use sophisticated tricks to carry out these money laundering schemes. They turn to automation tools, proxy servers, remote administration tools, and the TOR network to stay undetected and avoid linking their activities to previous schemes.
Fakes are the dark side of anonymity, a boon granted to us by the internet. As long as it remains easy to create a fake account, fraudsters will continue to try to use this opportunity for financial gain or to manipulate public opinion.
To combat this phenomenon, digital platforms can make adjustments to considerably complicate the authentication procedure. However, this can affect the user experience and lead to loss of customers. Another increasing method used to get rid of fakes is to use anti-fraud technologies. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics help spot fake accounts and suspicious behavior, distinguishing fake from legitimate users without affecting the convenience of online facilities.