Why keeping up with scam spikes is important
Every year our trust and safety team witness periods of increased scams and we see specific types of scams increase and decline over time. This is usually triggered by specific holidays, festivals, events or other happenings.
As a content moderator, you need to be aware of these scam spikes, where and when they’re happening and what to look for. That way you can prepare and protect your users better.
We have summarized some of the most scam-sensitive dates throughout 2019 in our scam awareness calendar below.
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2019 Scam Awareness Calendar
New Year’s resolutions
Following the New Year, many people are determined to lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more etc. and are typically vulnerable to scammers during this time.
Beware of garment, gizmo, pill or potion promising miracles without effort.
Unwanted gifts scam
Stay on top of gift resale of high-risk items at very low prices. Scammers often try to sell ‘duplicated’ or ‘unwanted’ gifts and here are some of the most common items used; costmetic sets, kitchen utensils, handmade gifts, socks, and shaving sets.
5th – 1st Feb, 2019 Asian cup in UAE
Here’s what you should look out for; circumvention terms in ads, a large number of available tickets, low prices, miscategorized tickets, ultra-cheap airline tickets, address, and phone number are geographically disconnected, and bank transfer payment only, to name a few.
Also, remember that official match tickets are only available through the official website.
5th, Chinese New Year – the year of the pig
Beware of ‘red envelope scams‘ and calls for fake charity donations.
14th, Valentine’s Day
Look out for; pets for Valentine’s, ‘too good to be true gifts'(electronics, jewelry etc.), detective or clairvoyance services, emails and romance scams.
Samsung Galaxy S10 and X, F or Flex expected launch
The expected launch date for Samsung Galaxy S10 is March 8th, with a rumored starting price at $719 (£739). Samsung is also rumored to launch the first foldable smartphone in March. It’s likely to be called Galaxy X, F or Flex.
Be on the lookout for cheap prices compared to market price, phrases such as ‘item is new or as good as new‘ or ‘brand new in box‘, and deceiving phrases used in the description.
Read More: Scam alert: Samsung Galaxy S9 release
19th – 22nd, Easter holiday
Be on the lookout for fraudulent holiday rental ads and ‘too good offers‘, as weekenders look for last minute deals.
Summer holiday bookings
April is often a month associated with summer holidays bookings. Stay ahead of the scammers and be on the lookout for; high quality or stock pictures, free email domains, IP’s, large group rentals, price below market, full payment in advance etc.
5th – June 4th, Ramadan
During Ramadan, online marketplaces should pay extra attention to; fake charities, commercial spam offerings, spam campaigns with fake promises, travel scams and the ‘hajj scam‘.
14th – July 7th, 2019 Copa America in Brazil
Here’s what you should look out for; circumvention terms in ads, a large number of available tickets, low prices, miscategorized tickets, ultra-cheap airline tickets, address and phone number are geographically disconnected, and bank transfer payment only, to name a few.
Tickets for this event can be purchased online and each federation is in charge of communicating how to purchase them. Ticket prices span between $60-400.
Winter holiday bookings
Believe it or not, but already in July, we start planning our winter holidays bookings. Stay ahead of the scammers and be on the lookout for; high quality or stock pictures, free email domains, IP’s, large group rentals, price below market, full payment in advance etc.
9th – 14th, Hajj in Mecca
Be cautious of scammers forging passports and paperwork, offer heavy discounts, requests payments in advance, cash or bank transfer, and fake travel operators.
Back to School scams
Keep your eyes open for new users posting flats/flatshares, pricing, circumvention terms, email names, stock photos, and dodgy loan offers. This also happens when the schools start in January.
16th, Mexican independence day
Look out for; high quality or stock pictures, free email domains, IP’s, large group rentals, price below market, full payment in advance etc.
If Apple sticks to its previous pattern of phone releases, the new iPhones of 2019 is likely to be announced on 10th of September, with headsets closely following on September 13th. Beware of increased scammers on your site during this time.
31st, Halloween and Dia de los Muertos
Beware of fake costume deliveries, decoration scams, fake haunted theme event tickets, fake profiles, charity donation requests, and ‘too good deals‘.
Thanksgiving day means shopping frenzy for a lot of people and it’s important for classifieds and online marketplaces to find ‘too good deals’ and remove the scammers.
29th, Black Friday
This day is a day filled with shopping. Look out for too low prices, circumvention, stock photos, phishing emails, deliverable issues, and phrases.
With the winter months around the corner, it’s common to stock up on firewood for the colder months. Beware of free email domains, IP’s, attractive titles (urgent, for free, free delivery etc.), and prices below market price.
2nd, Cyber Monday
Beware of too low prices, circumvention, stock photos, phishing emails, deliverable issues, and phrases.
21th – 26th, Christmas Weekend
Keep an eye out for; Santa’s letter scams, puppies for sale, too good deals, e-cards, ticket scams, and romance scams. Check out the holiday shopping moderation guide.
After Christmas sale
Beware of gift resale of high-risk items and phrases such as duplicated gift and unwanted gift.
How do we research scam trends?
Our trust and safety team is the backbone of our fraud prevention services.
Scammers continuously evolve their tactics and without a keen focus on scam trend research, it is almost impossible to keep up. We started our fraud prevention department in 2004 as it became clear to us that keeping users safe is key to marketplace success.
50% of people who see a scam are unlikely to return to the site they saw it on. That is why we put a lot of effort into predicting new scam targets and to preempt the damage by giving our agents, clients and readers tools and knowledge to spot new scams before they reach end users.