After waves of deceptive sites selling hand sanitizer, N95 masks, fake coronavirus cures and medicines, etc. many of these deceptive sites are now disguising themselves as ecommerce sites. The techniques used by the scammers are still the same.

NytimesCoronavirus Spurs a Wave of Suspect Websites Looking to Cash In

These scam ecommerce sites that exist for only a matter of days. They rip off consumers, and disappear. They appear to be harvesting credit card numbers, real home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. These are highly scalable because they can be created in fully automated fashion.

The scam:

  • Heavily advertise on FB, Instagram, mainstream sites via programmatic ad tech
  • Take orders from consumers; charge credit cards
  • Contact Us is online form – no phone number, no physical address
  • Products were never intended to ship
  • Scammer does this to collect credit card numbers, home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, etc. 
  • Site disappears after X number of days

How fraudsters do it, at scale:

  • domains are newly registered, or less than 100 days old, hidden registrants
  • sites built automatically with Shopify ecommerce templates
  • buy cheap ads through exchanges to get ads on mainstream sites like yahoo.com

Here’s an example that @dima_nomad documented in a twitter thread.

Note the huge increase in ad spend on desktop video ads. All ads purchased through Verizon Media. Total spend estimated at nearly $3 million over about 3 weeks.





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