Brazen Consumer Attitudes To Fraud Revealed

Brazen Consumer Attitudes To Fraud Revealed
Brazen Consumer Attitudes To Fraud Revealed

Over a third of all internet shoppers believe committing fraud against brands online is entirely legitimate. 

Research commissioned by fraud prevention provider Ravelin, reveals many consumers have a shockingly brazen attitude to fraud, with 37% saying they see nothing wrong with taking advantage of loopholes or gaps in retailers’ policies for their own gain.

A quarter (25%) believe this type of behaviour is a victimless crime, with 27% of respondents believing that fraud helps level the playing field against companies inflating their prices.

For 16% of those polled, friendly fraud is a legitimate way to help with the cost of living crisis and similar numbers (17%) are unworried about being caught.

Almost a third (32%) say there are celebrities and online influencers encouraging this type of behaviour.

However, many of those surveyed firmly believe friendly fraud is wrong and should be punished. Almost half say perpetrators should face harsher punishments (48%), and more than a quarter (27%) believe publicly naming and shaming people would help bring fraud under control.

Interestingly, 52% of consumer fraudsters believe that dishonest behaviour pushes up the prices for everyone – and yet these behaviours prevail. Almost a quarter (22%) say brands make it too easy for people to rip them off.

Ravelin CEO Martin Sweeney said: “We’ve been taken aback by quite how brazen some people are in their attitudes and behaviours when it comes to friendly fraud.

It’s telling that a significant proportion of fraudsters think retailers themselves enable the practice.

“Retailers must strike a delicate balance between facilitating sales and minimising fraud risks, but it’s clear from our findings that many don’t get it right.  One size fits all fraud approaches need to be replaced with data-driven approaches that learn and evolve in response to new patterns of behaviour.”

Bigger retailers most at risk

Certain types of merchants are much more at risk from consumer fraud than others with big brand retailers the most likely targets, according to Ravelin’s research.

Large supermarkets are the most at risk, with over a third of consumer fraudsters (39%) saying they are happy to target them.

A quarter (29%) of consumer fraudsters see high-street brands as legitimate targets. Just under one in five (19%) would take advantage of food delivery apps.

On the other hand, purpose-driven brands and social enterprises are least at risk, with only 6% of consumer fraudsters agreeing they are likely targets. Family-led businesses are also less at risk, and are likely to be targeted by only 7% of consumer fraudsters.

Bringing consumer fraud under control

Half of those polled believe more checks and security at checkout are needed.

And a quarter believe better processes around vouchers and returns will help to reduce the lure of fraud.

Nearly half (48%) say harsher punishments are needed, and nearly a quarter (22%) say better communication from brands would help reduce the issue. One in five consumers (21%) believe blacklisting offenders would be a good deterrent.

Martin Sweeney added: “It’s positive to see that many consumers are open to the idea of more checks and security to reduce the impact of friendly fraud. For brands, the challenge is implementing these measures while keeping the customer experience as frictionless as possible.”

Ravelin polled over 6,000 adults across the UK, France, and Germany and found that vast numbers of consumers of all ages regularly commit fraud.

Context: E-commerce growth

The e-commerce industry has seen significant growth over the past decade. International revenue hit over £4,715 trillion at the end of 2023, but the value is expected to reach £5,422 trillion in 2024 and £6,402 trillion at the end of 2026.

The current number of digital buyers is 2.64 billion worldwide.

References: Artios – General e-commerce statistics.


What are consumer fraudsters doing?

  • Item not received fraud: Falsely claiming ordered goods never arrived. The customer might then request a refund or a new item to be shipped and then resell the extra goods or keep them.

  • Faulty or damaged item: A customer can put through a chargeback request with their bank or a refund request with the merchant, misrepresenting the condition or state of the items upon arrival. They then request a new item and keep or sell the old one, which was in good working order.

  • Wardrobing/free-renting: Buying an item to return it after using it once or twice – for example, returning a new dress after wearing it to a wedding.

  • Fake returns: Attempting to return different – usually inferior – items to the ones purchased. The merchant will often approve the refund before verifying the parcel’s contents.