Published: November 16, 2023
Reading time: 2 minute read
Written by: Forter Team

By Doriel Abrahams, Head of Risk

Whether naughty or nice, holiday shopping is probably near the top of your to-do list in the coming weeks. And as you’re gearing up for holiday cheer, you must be mindful of the trends — and traps — that the 2023 holiday season brings.

With the cost of living climbing, savvy shoppers are keeping a tight grip on their wallets. Yet, this prudence is not without its perils; fraudsters are lurking, ready to exploit the season’s rush, and this year’s fraud trends are already taking shape.


What Attracts a Fraudster?

Fraudsters are not typically swayed by personal desire; they’re driven by the potential for profit.

  • Resale Potential: If an item can’t be sold, it’s not worth stealing. Fraudsters’ preferences often reflect consumer demand, taking advantage of the holiday shopping frenzy to offload popular items. Many have niche expertise, knowing exactly where to fence their ill-gotten goods.
  • Pricing ‘Sweet Spot’: Extremely high-ticket items draw attention, so fraudsters smartly target goods priced just under the radar of heightened security measures to sidestep rigorous checks.
  • Accessibility: The easier it is to obtain stolen merchandise, the better. Criminals exploit weaknesses in retail systems, focusing their efforts on vulnerable merchants.
  • Return on Investment (ROI): The ultimate goal is a high ROI. The perfect heist involves minimal effort with a high payoff, striking a balance that maximizes profits.

‘Tis the Season for Deception

The holiday season provides a smokescreen for fraudulent activities, blending illegal transactions within a sea of legitimate ones. The online shopping surge brings a diversity of devices, browsers, and unprecedented buying behaviors, particularly unique to this time of year. Expedited shipping offers are particularly enticing for fraudsters, as they reduce the window for detection.

This deviation from standard shopping patterns presents challenges for retailers in detecting anomalies. Additionally, companies relying on manual fraud detection face dire choices: hire temporary staff who lack experience or overburden their full-time teams, both options increasing the likelihood of oversight during this pivotal shopping period.

What’s on the Fraudster’s Wishlist for 2023?

While the fraudster’s wishlist of items for the 2023 holiday season largely resembles that of the 2022 season, there are some new entries into the wishlist, including:

  • Gift Cards: A year-round favorite, gift cards remain a top pick during the holidays for their anonymity and liquidity.
  • Limited-Drop Sneakers: No matter the retailer, high-end, limited-drop sneakers remain a steal for swindlers.
  • Outerwear: Seasonally suitable and with a decent price tag, outerwear remains high on the list and offers excellent resell potential.
  • High-end Watches: Ticking their way into the fraudsters’ plans, luxury watches are a time-honored target.
  • VR Headsets: As virtual reality gains traction, so does its allure for the criminally inclined.
  • Wireless Headphones: Their convenience for consumers makes them a hot commodity for crooks.
  • Smart Appliances: From smart vacuums to security cameras, these gadgets are getting grabbed up before consumers can click ‘add to cart.’
  • Smartphones: No surprise here – the latest smartphones are a mainstay on the fraudster’s shopping spree.

Staying Ahead of the Holidays

As the holiday season unfolds, it’s a cat-and-mouse game between fraudsters and fraud analysts. For those defending against these schemes, the season is as much about vigilance as it is about celebration. Observing the evolution of fraud and thwarting these thefts is as integral to the season as the festive spirit itself.

Wishing you safe and happy holidays from our team – may your season be merry, bright, and secure!

2 minute read