At a Glance
This common credit card scam charges subscription-like monthly fees on your card. Here’s what you need to know about the widespread online scheme.
Researchers have exposed a multi-million dollar credit card scam that has flown under the radar since 2019 for its subtlety. In fact, it’s so discreet that it may even have gone undetected on your own credit card statement.
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How the scam has gone undetected
Here’s how it works, according to cybersecurity firm ReasonLabs, who uncovered the online scheme. The fraudsters operate a large network of dating and adult sites. These websites are built with legitimate infrastructure, using popular hosting services such as Amazon Web Services and GoDaddy, and have payment processing capabilities.
The scammers then buy stolen credit card information from the dark web and use the websites to set up monthly subscription-like recurring payments. The charges range from $29.95 to $49.95, reports Insider, and appear on credit card statements with generic names, which is a common practice with real adult dating sites.
Because the charges are so small and have vague names, they easily go undetected on credit card statements, especially considering the fact people are used to having subscription services of all sorts.
What’s even crazier is, the sites allegedly have actual customer service – and the scammers have even issued real refunds when people complained about the charges on their cards to avoid raising suspicions.
ReasonLabs estimates that the scam has stolen tens of millions of dollars from tens of thousands of families and individuals and calls it “potentially one of the largest fraudulent online credit card schemes active today.”
is the number of credit card fraud reports filed in the first half of 2022.
The only way to protect yourself
Wondering how to protect yourself from this common scam? The only thing you can do is keep a close eye on your credit card statements and look at all the monthly transactions on your card. If you notice something suspicious, be proactive about alerting your credit card company.
“For this particular scam, what’s crazy about it is there’s really very little protection in the way of technology,” shared ReasonLabs co-founder and chief technology officer Andrew Newman with Insider. “Something we preach all the time is really just education. If you see something odd, make sure you do something about it because it’s not going to go away on its own.”
The bottom line
Researchers have discovered a massive online credit card scam that easily goes undetected because it charges small amounts of money monthly and appears on your credit card statement with a vague name. To avoid falling prey to it, stay on top of your finances and analyze your credit card statements closely. Alert your credit card company if you see anything that you don’t recognize.