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Online fraud in the garment industry

Posted by Tom Gilmore on 30/06/2017 updated 22/03/2023

Online fraud and the garment industry

Online fraud has been growing exponentially every year since the introduction of the world wide web internet browser. Before that, the use of the internet was military and restricted to bulletin board system or BBS users.

Once the web browser made it possible for users to buy online crime soon followed. Fraud takes many forms, from simple ‘non supply’ to high-tech ransomwear.

Ordering a product online from an auction website or direct from a supplier can result in the item not being received by the buyer. This does not always mean the item wasn’t despatched by the supplier, it may have been lost in transit. With more items being sent by couriers who track the parcel from end-to-end this problem is reducing. If a retailer takes your order and money but does not send the item this requires the purchaser to investigate and work out if he can claim a refund from the company that made the payment on his behalf, that may be a credit card company, PayPal or a bank debit card.

A common fraud in the clothing industry is where and enquiry comes to a corporate clothing company asking for a quote for 1500 plain black t-shirts (no print or embroidery required). The enquirer first asks what methods of payment we accept. This is a giant warning sign. Genuine buyers ask about the product; the quality, sizing, fit, durability, stock, lead-time etc. They also ask if we can ship to a foreign destination.

At first, you don’t want to ignore a potentially large sale. So you go along with, working out the cost per garment, check stock and shipping costs. You soon realise this is fraudulent enquiry and take the enquiry no further. Between 2020 and 2012 we would get about 3 of these enquiries a week. They have dropped off significantly but we still receive a couple a month.

The more recent spate of ransomware attacks has spread worldwide due to vulnerabilities in outdated operating software such as Windows XP. This is a much more sinister fraud and can paralyse a company or organisation such as the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The software locks out the user encrypting their data and demands a ransom of x number of Bitcoins to supply a release code. The latest attack this week saw the email address used by the fraudsters closed down by the email provider so there was no way to receive a release key if you did pay the ransom. This is obviously the correct way to handle the situation from the authorities perspective buy may leave an organisation without any way to recover their data. That said, any data that is vital to the firms survival should have multiple back-up systems in place.

Virgin Media O2 want internet users of all ages to enjoy all the wonderful things the web has to offer safely and so their experts have created a cyber security safety test to help build awareness around cybercrime, identity theft, malware & phishing to help users be better protected online.

If you want to report a fraud in the UK then Action Fraud is a good place to start

For further information call the Aspect team on 020 8991 1800 or browse the clothes safely online here.