Merchant fraud encompasses situations in which malicious actors impersonate merchants with the intention of perpetrating fraud against consumers or financial institutions.
Merchant fraud is often labeled as “fake merchant fraud,” which is indeed a more precise characterization.
When discussing this topic, it’s important to note that legitimate merchants are generally not involved. Instead, the term refers to criminals who create fraudulent merchant accounts to accept credit card payments from unsuspecting victims.
In the realm of online operations, scammers capitalize on anonymity and easy access to a worldwide pool of potential targets. Establishing a counterfeit storefront is also straightforward. Consequently, there’s minimal investment and risk associated with this type of card-not-present fraud scheme.
Similar to other scams, merchant fraud can manifest through various tactics. However, the fundamental process usually remains consistent.
Initially, the fraudster sets up a fictitious online store, advertising and selling products that may or may not exist. Consumers make purchases under the assumption of dealing with a legitimate business. The criminal then either keeps the funds or exploits stolen card details from these “customers” for unauthorized transactions.
Nevertheless, processing payment cards necessitates a genuine merchant account and a payment processor. Acquiring banks typically bear the brunt of merchant fraud schemes, as they diligently seek authorized and verified businesses. Despite their efforts, scammers occasionally manage to bypass fraud detection mechanisms, creating accounts for non-existent entities.
Written by Andrii Vovk