Online shopping fraud has been growing for several years, but according to BBB research, it dramatically increased during the pandemic as more people shopped online. A BBB survey found 29% of people shopped online before COVID-19, and this increased to 37% by the end of 2020. In turn, BBB Scam Tracker reports about online shopping scams nearly doubled from 2019 to 2020, and the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust named online shopping scams as the riskiest scam of 2020, publishing special reports on this growing fraud in 2020 and 2021. Complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about online purchases more than doubled in 2020 and continue to increase throughout 2021. Also, online shopping has more BBB “F”-rated companies than any other type of business. 

Most online fraud reports examined involve a response to online ads. After placing an order, victims report receiving nothing or receiving items that were counterfeit or inferior from what the ads promised. Scammers often take product photos or a landing page from legitimate businesses, post them on popular social media platforms and take online orders at websites they create. This leads to complaints against legitimate businesses, as victims often do not realize they have lost their money to a scammer rather than the business the scammer was…

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