Product "returns abuse" increased year over year.

Forter’s quarterly “fraud attack” index jumped across the board, with industry segments all showing significant gains and with apparel and accessories, clocking a 47 percent year-over-year gain, “thanks to sophisticated attack methods, like the use of bots,” a spokeswoman told WWD.

The company said fraud attacks in the jewelry and luxury segment increased 19 percent year-over-year. And across all segments, “returns abuse” also rose sharply during the quarter, gaining 90 percent year-over-year.

“Apparel remains popular with fraudsters because it is easy to resell, and attempts to buy in bulk aren’t suspicious like they are in other industries,” the company said. “One recent challenge facing the industry is how to combat automated bots, which are capable of performing upward of 100 attacks per second. For example, bots are often used to target new releases of limited-edition footwear, which is popular in the criminal community because their rarity ensures higher value and an eager market.”

Researchers at the firm said in their report that despite the sharp gains in attacks during the quarter, “it appears the scale of attacks hasn’t grown enough to match the flood of stolen data exposed in 2018 breaches like those at Under Armour, Saks and Lord & Taylor.” The authors of the report said this raises the possibility “that compromised data is being stockpiled to use in future attacks.”

By type of attack, fraud rings (“when bad actors band together to commit fraud”), showed a 26 percent year-over-year gain, while “policy abuse” (cheating retailers via coupons and discount codes) jumped 170 percent. Forter said “account takeover,” which is when a fraudster “gains unlawful access to an account in order to exploit it,” showed a year-over-year increase of 45 percent.

Looking at other industry segments, food and beverage experienced a 79 percent year-over-year gain, while electronics rose 73 percent and land travel and hospitality gained 19 percent.