January 19, 2006, 12:00 AM

Online fraud risk spreading beyond major cities, report says

The five cities in the U.S. at greatest risk for online fraud accounted for a lower percentage of it in 2005 compared to 2004, as criminals spread their fraudulent activities to more places, CyberSource reports.

The five cities in the U.S. at greatest risk for online fraud-New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Detroit-accounted for a lower percentage of it in 2005, compared to 2004, as criminals spread their activities to more places, according to the views of online merchants surveyed by CyberSource Corp.

“The blame for online fraud is being spread more broadly,” says Doug Schwegman, director of market intelligence for CyberSource, a provider of online payment processing and risk management products and services. The CyberSource survey asked online merchants to identify the U.S. cities and foreign markets they believe to have posed the highest risk of online fraud in 2005. The five leading cities were cited by 36% of respondents, down from 51% in 2004.

The perception of online fraud risk in the five leading U.S. cities has come down as e-retailers have stepped up scrutiny of transactions coming from those cities, Schwegman says. “So criminals are trying to move their activity to other areas,” he says.

New York was cited by 18% of respondents as having the highest risk of online fraud, followed by Los Angeles and Miami, each at 7%; and Chicago and Detroit, each at 2%.

Schwegman notes that the five leading cities all have port facilities that criminals can use to ship goods acquired fraudulently, but that merchants should continue to scrutinize orders throughout the country for unusually high volumes or values, especially when the buyer requests overnight shipment.

Port cities may also be more likely to serve as a conduit for online fraud originating or terminating in foreign markets, Schwegman adds. The CyberSource survey also notes that merchants’ perception of online fraud is also changing overseas, partly due to the growth of markets like China.

Africa as a whole continues to be seen as having the highest risk of online fraud outside the U.S. and Canada, cited by 37% of respondents, followed by Asia, 30%, Nigeria, 31%, Europe, 18%; Latin America, 12%; China, 7%; Indonesia, 5%; and the Middle East, 2%.

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