In this article, we’ll discuss how we lost $11,000 and the ways to prevent fraudulent transactions in 2023.
My experience with Amazon online arbitrage was a challenging one, as I incurred a loss of $11,000, primarily due to fraudulent transactions. However, this experience provided me with invaluable insights into how to identify and prevent such incidents in the future. Therefore, in this article, I will share four effective steps that one can take to prevent fraudulent transactions.
For a period of 5 years, I have been selling products on Amazon UK. During this time; I have effectively managed a team of over 50 Amazon virtual assistants, all of whom are located remotely in the Philippines. Together, we were able to generate substantial revenue of $1 million. What’s more, I was able to accomplish all of this while traveling the world and broadening my horizons by meeting new people.
Building upon my years of experience and expertise, I then decided to expand my business operations and begin selling on Amazon USA. However, this journey has not been without its challenges. Over the course of several months after starting, I have encountered several setbacks, including canceled orders, a drop in sales, and, more recently, fraudulent transactions.
It has come to our attention that it has charged us from multiple locations in Europe, primarily from Italy and Germany. These charges range from $500 to $1,000, and unfortunately, we were not able to detect them until October. As a result, we have incurred an overall charge of $11,000.
Why is it important?
Well, it involves a substantial amount of money, which emphasizes the importance of learning from our experience and taking the necessary measures to avoid fraudulent transactions.
4 Steps to prevent fraudulent transactions
In this particular chapter, we have segregated the process of preventing fraudulent transactions into 4 distinct steps. The first step involved fraud prevention, while the second step focuses on minimizing the risk of fraudulent activities. The third step emphasizes the importance of fraud detection, and the fourth step revolves around effective fraud management.
Step 1: Fraud Prevention
In order to prevent fraudulent transactions, we created a diagram which I will discuss with you at each stage.
This diagram looks quite simple, but it does help the purchasing managers whenever they’re doing a purchase.
Check the authenticity of the website even if you’re not sure or you haven’t purchased it before. Always check the reviews.
Our current belief is that we compromised our credit card information due to a potentially unsafe website with inadequate security measures hackers have breached. Although we cannot confirm the exact timing of the breach, it is our primary suspicion that this is the cause of the fraudulent transactions. In most cases, such incidents are the result of unscrupulous websites gaining unauthorized access to sensitive financial information.
Make sure that what you think you’re buying is what you’re actually buying. Always make sure to buy the right products.
Credit Card Information
Ensure that there is a “lock” icon before purchasing products. Make sure that you turn on the VPN. Do not save card details. No sharing of card details.
Ensuring to turn on your VPN especially if it’s an open network connection. Another measure we take to prevent fraudulent transactions is to refrain from saving credit card details on any website. I do this to prevent unauthorized access in the event that someone gains access to our account using an old or compromised password. If you save your credit card details on the website, an unauthorized person could use them to make additional purchases. Furthermore, we never share our credit card details with anyone. I took these steps to ensure the protection of our credit card information. In addition, we carefully review and verify each purchase before completing the transaction to ensure that the product is being purchased from a legitimate website.
Once we have selected the product, we proceed to purchase it from the website. Subsequently, we record the purchase details on our Ultimate Sourcing Sheet (USS), which serves as a central document for managing all our purchases. The purchase process is fairly straightforward and involves standard checks to ensure that I am satisfied with the transaction.
The last step in our fraud prevention process involves conducting daily or twice daily fraud checks. Both our admin virtual assistant and our purchasing manager perform these checks. They serve a dual purpose: first, our purchasing manager receives notifications every time a one-time password is sent. If they receive an unexpected notification, they immediately flag it as a potential fraud attempt. Secondly, our team logs into our bank account using secondary users and compares the transactions against our Ultimate Sourcing Sheet (USS) to ensure that they match up. This is a crucial step in detecting any fraudulent transactions as soon as possible.
We also perform daily checks, sometimes even multiple times a day, to ensure that every transaction is legitimate and matches what we have recorded in the USS. Additionally, we add comments to each transaction to keep track of its purpose, such as “transaction confirmed for John Doe.” At the end of this process, we conduct a random audit to verify that our admin VA and purchasing manager have carried out their duties correctly. We compare a few transactions against the USS to ensure accuracy.
We want to emphasize that there are many ways to check a website’s legitimacy. However, these steps serve as a simple overlay of what we do to prevent fraudulent transactions. By conducting regular fraud checks, avoiding saving card details to websites, and not sharing card details, we have minimized the risk of fraudulent activity in our transactions.
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Step 2: Minimization
To prevent fraudulent transactions, we have made several changes in our approach. Firstly, we have opted for 3 separate cards, each with a daily limit of $2,000. Instead of using a single card with a $3,000 limit. We make sure to consider the operational needs, as there are instances where we require more than $1,000 for purchasing.
Moreover, we intend to generate new virtual cards on a daily basis and promptly freeze any compromised cards. This approach is necessary because we require a minimum of 8 weeks to evaluate transaction history and process refunds.
Step 3: Detection of fraud
To facilitate the detection of fraudulent transactions, the purchasing manager and the team ensure that they enable all email notifications related to purchases. This allows them to confirm that the purchasing manager authorized the expenditure. Furthermore, the admin VA conducts twice-daily live online bank statement checks to compare them with USS purchases, ensuring that the amount charged to the card matches the amount recorded in the USS.
If fraudulent activity is detected, we will conduct an investigation to minimize any impact on business operations and suspend purchasing activities for up to 3 days.
Step 4: Fraud Management
To prevent fraudulent transactions, we quickly follow a process to verify and manage them. First, we check 3 key factors to identify any suspicious activity.
- The total amount charged to the card, such as card A, being charged $5,000.
- The number of transactions made, which may not alight with the USS of the purchasing manager.
- They recorded how long the transaction has been ongoing.
What happens when there is a fraudulent transaction?
If we detect any fraudulent activity based on these factors, we proceed to investigate further. For instance, if we detected a transaction 3 days after it was posted, we check other cards for workable compromises. This process helps us to manage and prevent any fraudulent activities quickly and efficiently.
The next step in managing fraudulent transactions is to inform the business owner (me) and the business development manager through Skype or Slack. They must ensure that they convey the necessary information accurately. A team member will complete a set paragraph of text for both parties.
The template helps the team member to include all necessary details, even though they cannot cancel the card. If there is no response to the message sent on Skype or Slack, the team member will make 3 Skype calls to each person as a signal for help.
The admin VA will use a provided template to send an email complaint to the bank and merchant, and the business owner (me) or the business development manager will cancel the compromised card. This step is taken to recover any losses incurred. Additionally, the business development manager, together with the involved Amazon business, will conduct an investigation of the incident and suspend all purchasing activities for a maximum of 3 days.
After successfully completing the 4 steps of fraud prevention, minimization, detection, and management, purchasing and issuance of new virtual cards can resume.
Top Tips to prevent fraudulent transactions
Use software or a website to check the legitimacy of the website
Check if the bank provides provisional credits
The second important tip we have learned from our experience with fraud is to work closely with your bank. In our case, the fraudulent activity occurred on a debit card, and we collaborated with our bank to address the issue. When we reported the fraudulent transaction to the supplier, our bank asked us to forward the email communication to them. In response, they provided us with provisional credits for the amount we had lost, which was around $10,000 to $11,000. This allowed us to recover the funds while we were still dealing with the fraudulent transaction.
We recommend that you reach out to your bank for guidance on the best practices for handling fraud. Since implementing these policies, we have not experienced any further incidents of fraud.
Time to prevent fraudulent transactions this 2023!
Preventive measures must be taken to lower the risks of the impact of fraudulent transactions on your Amazon business. This article has provided you with 4 effective strategies you can use to prevent fraudulent transactions this 2023. Remember, early prevention is always the key to avoiding costly consequences in the future, and now is the time to act.
If you're interested in learning more about sourcing the profitable products for your Amazon business, do check our previous articles which will be beneficial to you: My 2023 Top 2 Sourcing Methods, How to do Keepa Sourcing, and How to do Manual Sourcing.