February 1, 2007, 12:00 AM

Nigeria and New York City the riskiest country and city for online trade

Merchants rate Nigeria and New York City as the locales with the highest risk of fraudulent transactions in CyberSource’s annual online fraud survey.

If you live in Nigeria, you may undergo more scrutiny from online merchants when placing an order on the web; ditto New York City or Miami. The three locales were identified as some of the riskiest for online trade in the annual online fraud survey by electronic payment security services provider CyberSource Corp.

Nigeria was named the world’s riskiest country for e-commerce for the third consecutive year. Similarly, it was the third straight year in which New York City received the dubious honor of being named the riskiest North American metro area for online trade. By denoting a country or city as “riskiest,” the merchant survey respondents indicated that orders from these areas were more likely to be fraudulent: for example, made with stolen credit cards or other fraudulent forms of payment.

9% of survey respondents, the largest single share, identified New York City as the riskiest area for online commerce. That’s down from 18% who cited it last year. Miami was cited by 7%, the same as last year; and Los Angeles was cited by 6%, down from 7% last year. This year 2% cited Montreal as one of the highest-risk areas for online commerce-the first time a Canadian city has appeared in CyberSource survey results.

Among countries, Nigeria was cited as a highest-risk area by 31% of respondents, the same as last year; while Russia was mentioned by 9%, up from 4% last year. The United Kingdom, Indonesia and Mexico each were cited by 6% of respondents, with the U.K. and Mexico each up from 4% last year. Indonesia is new to the list this year.

“With the exception of Nigeria, which seems to have won the risky category, what we’re seeing is a spreading of the fraud risk both domestically and abroad,” says Doug Schwegman, CyberSource director of customer and market intelligence. “Fraud is a mobile phenomenon, movable from one city or one country to the next.”

The fact that more merchants are using anti-fraud measures such as geolocation tools indicates that awareness is growing among merchants. In 2005, according to CyberSource, 25% of U.S. merchants had access to IP geolocation information. By the end of 2006, that number has jumped to 35%.

“Merchants tell us that their fraud risk has stayed relatively constant over the last three years,” says Schwegman. “This isn’t due to any lessening of effort on the part of the fraudsters. What’s happening is that many merchants are staying at the forefront of anti-fraud technology.”

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