Black Friday punch-ups will give way to Cyber Monday fraud


Black Friday has historically been a very American phenomenon, marking the start of the seasonal Xmas shopping rush and happening the Friday after Thanksgiving. In the past it has led to scenes of semi-rioting and chaos in some stores as the Walmartarati fight over bargain electrical goods. The UK got a taste of the madness yesterday, with shoppers working themselves into a frenzy at various Walmart-owned ASDA supermarket stores across the country. Some of the most violent scenes were witnessed at the West Belfast, Northern Ireland branch of ASDA where one woman was hospitalized and reports of pensioners being pushed to the ground and a disabled woman trampled on and having her arm broken in the process have emerged. Most of the carnage apparently caused by attempts to grab TVs and tablet PCs that were heavily discounted for the sale.

If that weren't bad enough, the chaos looks like it could continue after the calm of the weekend with Cyber Monday. Cyber what now? Cyber Monday happens the Monday after Thanksgiving in the US, and is nothing more than an attempt to cash in on the whole Black Friday thing but within the online retail sector rather than the high street. If you've not heard of it, you've not been paying attention as the marketers first launched the Cyber Monday concept way back in 2005 when used the term in a press release. Since then it has really taken hold and consumers seem to have fallen for the marketing drivel, with statistics showing that it has become one of the biggest 'spending days' of the year with more than $1 billion in a single day in the US alone. It has, of course, also 'gone global' and now some security experts are warning that Cyber Monday is as popular with fraudsters as it is with shoppers.

James Nunn-Price, UK head of cyber security at Deloitte, says that "spammers will be using the opportunity to send out increased amounts of fake offers and phishing emails, hoping that consumers will have their guard down and be tricked into giving up their personal details". And that's just for starters. "We also expect to see more instances of cybersquatting, where fraudsters set up fake websites which look like the real thing" Nunn-Price warns. Coupon-sites and discount-code distributors are likely to be the main focus for the fraudsters, so watch out when looking for those bargains.

It's not just the consumers that are being targeted though, retailers themselves are likely to see losses through an increase in fraudulent payments. "Companies’ fraud controls will be tested as they try to process high volumes of orders as fast as possible, and smaller online businesses, some of whom might have manual back office processes, may struggle to perform thorough checks" Nunn-Price says, concluding "companies pushing Cyber Monday deals should make sure they are able to safely deal with the extra transactions".

About the Author

A freelance technology journalist for 30 years, I have been a Contributing Editor at PC Pro (one of the best selling computer magazines in the UK) for most of them. As well as currently contributing to, The Times and Sunday Times via Raconteur Special Reports, SC Magazine UK, Digital Health, IT Pro and Infosecurity Magazine, I am also something of a prolific author. My last book, Being Virtual: Who You Really are Online, which was published in 2008 as part of the Science Museum TechKnow Series by John Wiley & Sons. I am also the only three times winner (2006, 2008, 2010) of the BT Information Security Journalist of the Year title, and was humbled to be presented with the ‘Enigma Award’ for a ‘lifetime contribution to information security journalism’ in 2011 despite my life being far from over...

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