August 30, 2001, 12:00 AM

Don’t be a victim: When fraud strikes, you’ve got to do something about it

(Page 2 of 2)

Go after attempted fraud as well as fraudulent orders. One thing I was surprised to discover is when creating a case, police can go after not only actual fraud, but attempted fraud as well.

Be helpful and respond to all questions in a timely manner. Not only does this help catch the fraudster, but it also means in the case of restitution, you will be first on the detective’s mind.

Put the fraudster on a payment plan. In your research you may actually identify some of the fraudsters on your own before creating a case. You can decide to put the fraudster on some sort of payment plan to pay you back. Experts say you are more likely to get your money if you work something out. The majority of fraud occurring on the Internet is committed by people who simply thought they could get away with it.

Don’t despair

Sometimes merchants do catch the bad guy. In one case a 14-year-old had downloaded a credit card number generator and was able to purchase more than $800 worth of goods from an online CD store.

The individual used a fake credit card number and fake billing and shipping address. After the goods were on the way via UPS Ground, the fraudster would call UPS and change the shipping address to his home address.

With a few phone calls, the merchant was able to figure out where the products were being shipped and spoke with the parents of the fraudster. Now the fraudster writes a check for $25 every month to the merchant. (The fraudster also has a lot of chores to do each month.)

This is not an uncommon story. I heard it many times from many different merchants. The amount that was stolen and the goods changed, but the same model applied.

While some merchants did report more organized crime by professional criminals, the majority of Internet fraud is still committed by individuals who simply think they cannot get caught.

But don’t expect that because you’ve taken all these steps, you’re likely to get all your money or stolen product back. Results (that is, retailers getting their money back) are quite disappointing. In fact, you may see only 10% of your money, and you will probably spend more than that investigating the fraud. That being said, you are an easy target if you do nothing and fraudsters figure that out. So you are preventing fraud by being a responsible merchant and taking action.

Julie Fergerson is vice president of emerging technologies at Austin, Tex.-based ClearCommerce Corp. She can be reached at 512-977-5525 or

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