More wine fraud on the internet

Pandemic increases fraudulent cyber activity.

Due to the online boom, there are more scams on the internet / Credit: timkaekler - Fotolia
Due to the online boom, there are more scams on the internet / Credit: timkaekler - Fotolia

Due to Covid-19, there were hardly any more face-to-face events. Instead, the number of online events increased rapidly. This is also the case in the wine business. Wineries invite people to online tastings, companies to corporate incentives, retailers tout their packages. But this increased online activity is also attracting more and more fraudsters. Thus, the US company Recorded Future reports in a study together with the cybersecurity company Area 1 Security that the number of fraud attempts in the wine sector has risen sharply.

For this purpose, the analysts examined the development of new registrations of wine-related domains, for instance, for the terms wine, vino, Champagne, Bordeaux or Cabernet. 

In the period from April 2020 to March 2021, there was a significant increase of domain registrations on the topic of wine. By March 2020, there were between 3,000 and 4,000 per month, and by May, there were already 12,400. With a slight delay, the number of wine domains classified as suspicious by Recorded Future also skyrocketed. 

"It appears that it has taken some time for cyber criminals to get the idea of using wine for malicious activity," it said in a statement. A total of 4,389 malicious wine-themed domains were identified from April 2020 to the end of March 2021. 

These newly registered wine domains were the senders of numerous email campaigns, consisting mostly of conventional spam, i.e. mails that are supposed to lure the recipient to certain websites to purchase dubious products.

The analysts identified 13.5 percent of the emails they examined as malicious or suspicious. In most cases, these were phishing emails that tricked the recipient into believing that they were sent by a recognised sender. In addition, there were personalised scam emails that urged recipients to transfer certain amounts of money under a business pretext. In individual cases, however, the fraudsters also seemed to be specifically targeting company data, which can result in "considerable company losses". aw

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