Monster growth in online sales this holiday season will trigger an explosion of duplicitous deals, fake websites, phony emails and outright shopping scams.
More than ever, online buyers better beware.
Instead of standing in line to snag deals on Black Friday, many consumers will be hitting their laptops and iPhones to spend $10.3 billion online, up 39% from a year ago, according to forecasts from Adobe Analytics.
And on the Monday after Thanksgiving Weekend, dubbed Cyber Monday, sales online could surge to $12.7 billion.
Overall, online holiday spending is expected to hit $189 billion from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31, up a projected 33%, according to Adobe, which estimates that two holiday seasons of growth could happen in one.
Millions of dollars, though, could be lost along the way as scammers gear up for what could be their best holiday season yet.
What's troubling is that these scams might not be simple to spot, as fraudsters increasingly figure out ways to target potential victims, copy enough logos and images to look legitimate and use social media to tempt shoppers.
Already consumer watchdogs are hearing from consumers who spotted an ad on social media for what looks like a great gift but doesn't measure up to expectations.
Amy Nofziger, director of victim support for the AARP Fraud Watch Network, said one consumer complained in the fall about spotting a collectible doll on Facebook that was reportedly advertised as 23 inches tall.
"And when he got it, it was a 7-inch piece of junk," Nofziger said.