Cyber (Criminal) Monday

On the Monday after Thanksgiving, millions of internet users will scour the web looking for a deal on a multitude of holiday deals. Cyber Monday is also a day full of calculations. What's the savings on the HDTV? Does the addition of sales tax at one merchant offset the shipping savings at another?In many cases, fraudsters are also savvy mathematicians. In fact, most of their scams are based on simple calculations. For example, a 419 scammer looks at the number of impressions it costs to achieve a successful scamee (yes that is a made up word). The scammer will take into account their cost per impression, which can include time, servers, software, and employees. The scammer will also look at the money made from each scamee and develop the most lucrative and profitable scams.Cyber Monday presents another interesting calculation. Cyber Monday hit $1.25 billion in sales in 2011, and analysts believe that sales will only increase in 2012 (Search Engine Watch). This sales spike means that the number of manual reviews cannot maintain pace at the same effectiveness. One of several things has to happen for the math to make sense:

  • Manual Review Employees work overtime: Overtime hours will absolutely make up some of the extra orders that need to be reviewed, but also may result in employees becoming overworked and careless.
  • Additional Employees hired for the holiday season: This will also likely be true with most large online merchants. However, while this helps offload some of the workload, it is likely that these employees have undergone a lot less training than full-time employees and may be less effective.
  • Fewer Orders are reviewed by a percentage: Even with existing employees working longer hours and being complemented by contract employees, the reality is that fewer orders as a percentage are likely to be reviewed by a merchant.

Fraudsters understand that the burden of extra orders means that the quality of the manual review process will be weakened regardless of the approach that merchants take. This is the same reason why fraudsters like to make purchases in off hours or choose rushed delivery. Math like this obviously does not require a PhD in mathematics but sheds a light into the efficiency and the calculating nature of online fraudsters.

Source: "Cyber Week Breaks 4 Records, Nears $6 Billion Mark." Search Engine Watch.

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