Preventing Fraud on our Online Giving Pages

Guest post by:

Vered Siegel, Manager of Development Services
Children’s Home + Aid
and
Kirsten Williams, Associate Director, Gift Services
University of Oregon Foundation

The Scams

The credit card scam/fraud attempt that many nonprofits have experiences starts with a very large online gift from an unknown donor. Shortly afterward, an email arrives saying the amount was a mistake (e.g., $7,000 instead of $700) and asking for a refund of the difference to a different credit card. These attempts don’t cost nonprofits much in lost revenue, but can be a headache to clean up.

Another scam uses nonprofits’ websites to test stolen credit cards. Often card numbers are ‘stolen’ by a waiter or other service provider while the card is in his or her possession. The card holder has no idea that their card number has been compromised and so has not reported it stolen. S/he may not notice the extra charges until a statement arrives weeks later.

After that, scammers can manipulate the stolen card numbers to create other possible credit card numbers. The first six numbers identify the bank that issued the card and the last six identify the specific customer. Using a computer program, they generate thousands of new card account numbers, some of which will be valid.

A second source of credit card fraud comes from outright theft – primarily by hacking a popular website or retailer’s database. Scammers purchase these stolen credit card numbers for pennies on the dollar in the hopes that some will be valid.

This is where the nonprofits come in. Scammers will take their list of stolen or invented card numbers — sometimes containing thousands of names, addresses, and card numbers – and start making small “donations” to confirm that the card is valid. Using networked computers to automate their work, they can try thousands of numbers in a few hours. If they get that confirmation, they are ready to go shopping.

Warning Signs

What are some of the giveaways that you’ve been hit?

·         A large bump in volume of online donations. (For example, if you tend to get 40 gifts overnight, you may see 400 or even 4000.)

·         Those gifts are typically for less than $5.

·         The email addresses used for confirmation look suspicious – they are random combinations of letters and numbers, from an email provider that is free and easy to create accounts for. (AOL, Yahoo!, and Hotmail are all common.)

·         The addresses of the “donors” are all in sequence, or all within the same zip code. This is a good indicator that your scammer purchased or stole a list and is using a subsection of it.

Prevention

One way you can help protect credit card data is by beefing up the security measures on the back-end using your payment gateway. One of the best ways methods is to set up Address Verification Service (AVS). If your bank does not provide this service, consider using a payment gateway (e.g., Authorize.net, BluePay, iATS, etc.) to facilitate these transactions. Many offer this protection. AVS checks the street address and zip code of each card against the issuing bank’s data for that card. If either does not match, the card will be declines. Most scammers do not have the complete addresses of the card holders and will be unable to process any transactions.

Putting transaction filters on your payment gateway account offer a further layer of protection. One option is a velocity filter. A velocity filter limits the number of approved transactions that can be made in any given hour. If you typically see 10 transactions per hour on your website, setting a limit of 15 will allow your normal transactions to process but flag the extra charges. You can choose to decline these transactions automatically or hold them for manual review.

Another option some payment gateways offer to limit fraud attempts is to block specific IP addresses. Scammers often use a few computers at the same location to process transactions resulting in a few IP address linked to the bogus transactions. These IP address can be put on a blocked list, preventing them from using your website.

Another option is to set up front-end security measures. You can set up a minimum gift amount, such as $5 — which is more than most scam gifts. While this penalizes some online donors who want to donate just a dollar or two, many nonprofits find that they don’t have many legitimate donors who give less than $5 online.

Some organizations even go so far as to require a CAPTCHA or RECAPTCHA field in order for a donor to make a gift online. This type of verification essentially requires that a human being type in an ever-changing code in order to finalize a gift. However, this approach can cause donors who have difficulty reading the CAPTCHA or RECAPTCHA code to simply leave the page without donating.

In the end, every organization must carefully weigh the pros and cons of setting up front-end security that may confuse or frustrate donors, and balance their security needs with concerns related to donor relations.

Resources

How Nonprofits Can Avoid Online Credit Card Fraud 

A Few Good Methods for Processing Credit Cards

Payment Processing in Pictures

5 Tips to Help Merchants Avoid Credit Card Fraud

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Lame spam of the day: do you get a lot of spam?

This came as a comment on my blog.  I had to smile at a spammer complaining about spam.  It included a link to a page that seems to be selling dental implants, but I didn't explore it.

Author: Reno Nevada

Comment:
Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar
one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses?

If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise?
I get so much lately it's driving me insane so any help is very much appreciated.

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Lame Spam of the Day: Lehman Brothers Centre for Women 2008 Newsletter

It's been a while since I got a spam message that rose to the level of true lameness (maybe because I've improved my anti-spam tools), but this one hit the target.  It's bad enough that the formatting of the first third is truly ugly (scroll to the bottom to see an image), it says someone named Raynan with my email address asked them to send me the message, the text of the newsletter includes the line "want facebook money?", and the links don't even try to look like they're legit.  But the real clincher is that the subject line says it's a newsletter from March, 2008.

Sender: Lehman Brothers Centre for Woman in Business [kbuckley@communications.london.edu]

To: Subscriber

Subject: Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business March 2008 Newsletter

Here's the intro text:

Dear Subscriber,

Raynan (robert@rlweiner.com ) has asked us to send you this email. If you would like to subscribe to future Lehman Brothers Centre for Woman in Business mailings, please click the following link: Subscribe .

HIT this link NOW and check your balance again in a few hours.

===>
> [link deleted] <<===

I accessed my closest members accounts and added this for you.

===>
> [link deleted] <<===

or want facebook money? ==>
> [link deleted] <<==

Welcome to the Lehman Brothers Centre for Women in Business at London Business School's Newsletter. The Centre has gone from strength to strength since its research agenda was officially launched on 1st November 2006 and we are delighted to keep you up-to-date with our research reports and activities.
Newsletter London experience. World impact.

Image:

Screenshot199

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Lame spam of the day: spam mashup

Another newbie spammer playing with a toy?  This plain-text spam has no sender, subject, formatting, or graphics.  Nothing unusual there.  The bonus is that it mashes up a variety of spammer techniques, starting with a list of 3-letter words running from "act" to "dry".  After that comes what looks like an email header, then some spam text, then a bunch of blank lines, and finally, to cap the effort, random text from travel guides.  Here's the whole thing (minus the links):

act
add
ado
ads
adz
aff
aft
aga
age
ago
ags
aha
ahi
ahs
aid
ail
aim
ain
air
ais
ait
ala
alb
ale
all
alp
als
alt
ama
ami
amp
amu
ana
and
ane
ani
ant
any
ape
apo
app
apt
arb
arc
are
arf
ark
arm
ars
art
ash
ask
asp
ate
att
auk
ava
ave
avo
awa
awe
awl
awn
axe
aye
ays
azo
baa
bad
bag
bah
bal
bam
ban
bap
bar
bas
bat
bay
bed
bee
beg
bel
ben
bes
bet
bey
bib
bid
big
bin
bio
bis
bit
biz
boa
bob
bod
bog
boo
bop
bos
bot
bow
box
boy
bra
bro
brr
bub
bud
bug
bum
bun
bur
bus
but
buy
bye
bys
cab
cad
cam
can
cap
car
cat
caw
cay
cee
cel
cep
chi
cig
cis
cob
cod
cog
col
con
coo
cop
cor
cos
cot
cow
cox
coy
coz
cru
cry
cub
cud
cue
cup
cur
cut
cwm
dab
dad
dag
dah
dak
dal
dam
dan
dap
daw
day
deb
dee
def
del
den
dev
dew
dex
dey
dib
did
die
dif
dig
dim
din
dip
dis
dit
doc
doe
dog
dol
dom
don
dor
dos
dot
dow
dry
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Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2013 19:58:09 +0100
From: Internet Phone <cue@apt.tryanew-typeofphonehere.us>
Message-ID: <CzOhAKAel.AnKuI7e8MI@tryanew-typeofphonehere.us>
To: <robert@rlweiner.com>
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#64810


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e wait for your pieces of bread and a mess of dirty sauce happiness in Teleophore middle.

Ordered Towall veggie menage a trois. It's a perfect love triangle between smoky cheese, fake turkey (which tastes awesome, btw) and dead sweetest honey-laden bbq sauce I've ever tried...I could really drown my head in that stuff. Yum yum yum. Can't wait to come back to Ike's and make my way down wheelir mile-long menu of sandwiches. And that's all I have to say about that. And all you need to know is that Tarzan menage a trois made its way onto TCP/IP 2010 SF 100 Things you Need to Eat & Drink Before you Die. Even though this sandwich may help you get to that day much faster, you'll definitely be smiling :)
 

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Lame spam of the day: Raw spam merge text

Some newbie spammer posted a message on my site that shows the contents of their spam merge database.  It goes on and on, but you'll get the idea pretty quickly.  I found it fascinating. I recognize so many snippets that have appeared in my spam folder over the years.

{ {I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. {It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.| I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting. {Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!| {I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any? {Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know} {so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe. Thanks.| {It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you {few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}. {Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article. I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things about it!| {It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make {a few|some} plans for {the future|the longer term|the long run} and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} {read|learn} this {post|submit|publish|put up} and if I {may just|may|could} I {want to|wish to|desire to} {suggest|recommend|counsel} you {few|some} {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} {things|issues} or {advice|suggestions|tips}. {Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write {next|subsequent} articles {relating to|referring to|regarding} this article. 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The {text|words} in your {content|post|article} seem to be running off the screen in {Ie|Internet explorer|Chrome|Firefox|Safari|Opera}. I’m not sure if this is a {format|formatting} issue or something to do with {web browser|internet browser|browser} compatibility but I {thought|figured} I’d post to let you know. The {style and design|design and style|layout|design} look great though! Hope you get the {problem|issue} {solved|resolved|fixed} soon. {Kudos|Cheers|Many thanks|Thanks}| This is a topic {that is|that’s|which is} {close to|near to} my heart… {Cheers|Many thanks|Best wishes|Take care|Thank you}! {Where|Exactly where} are your contact details though?| It’s very {easy|simple|trouble-free|straightforward|effortless} to find out any {topic|matter} on {net|web} as compared to {books|textbooks}, as I found this {article|post|piece of writing|paragraph} at this {website|web site|site|web page}.| Does your {site|website|blog} have a contact page? 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I {enjoy|really like|love} the {knowledge|info|information} you {present|provide} here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m {shocked|amazed|surprised} at how {quick|fast} your blog loaded on my {mobile|cell phone|phone} .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. {Anyhow|Anyways}, {awesome|amazing|very good|superb|good|wonderful|fantastic|excellent|great} {site|blog}!| Its {like you|such as you} {read|learn} my {mind|thoughts}! 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Reigning in shadow databases

The following story, posted with permission, was sent to the FUNDSVCS list in response to a question about how to reign in schools and departments at a university that keep their own shadow databases of contacts. The response hit the nail on the head:

We started working on folding shadow databases into (Raiser's Edge, our central database) about 8 years ago. There are still quite a few of them out there, but we are slowly bringing them into the fold!

I have a story that we have used quite often:

A few years ago, we imported a shadow database into Raiser's Edge. The next year, they decided to run their Gala invites out of their old spreadsheet. They sent me the list some time later to add new records and appeal codes to RE. In the process, I discovered that they had mailed to 5 deceased people. The director asked me who these people were, and when I provided the names, she gasped and said that she had attended 3 of the funerals.

We in Advancement Services handle data for a living and understand the importance of updates and keeping the database clean. We get updates and information from multiple sources which can only benefit the departments who use our system. We do NCOA, wealth and deceased screenings. We do phone and email appends.   We get Google alerts. We track those who do not wish to be contacted either by mail, phone, email or not at all.   All of these things and more help to keep our records up to date and give them better information and more time to fundraise and friendraise.

Michelle Kolak
Assistant Director
Advancement Services
Columbia College Chicago

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Lame spam of the day: Magnificent things of your mouth

Most of the comments that spammers have been trying to post on my blog these days have been beyond lame: a single word or lines of gibberish.  It's sad that this junk gets through on so many sites.  That just encourages the spammers.

Today's spam is lame and charming, though it's probably less charming in the original language.  I love "Magnificent things of your mouth" and "I cannot wait around to read far more of your teeth." 

The site being promoted (through a link) seems to be a Swedish hearing clinic.  Here's the text:

Magnificent things of your mouth, gentleman. I use understand your stuff before so you are only extremely outstanding. I enjoy exactly what you’ve acquired the following, certainly like what you are telling and the way in which you actually say the item. You come to it enjoyable and you continue to care for to keep it effective. I cannot wait around to read far more of your teeth. This is really an excellent web page.

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Lame spam of the day: disappointed spammer

Most of the spam that reaches me comes as emails, but my blog also attracts a fair share of spammy comments.  Some are particularly lame (and some are pretty amusing).  Here's one of the former, from a spammer I presume is trying to increase the search engine ranking for a site selling shoes.  I searched for the first sentence and found over 2 million examples, so it may be working.

The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as a lot as this 1. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I truly thought youd have some thing interesting to say. All I hear is usually a bunch of whining about something which you could fix when you werent too busy seeking for attention.

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Lame spam of the day: Google Doc

Please tell me no one would ever click on something like this (I only wish it were true).  Plain text, bad English, the document isn't actually attached, and the CLICK HERE link doesn't point to google.com.

Sender: Laila Brenner [brenner.laila@gmail.com]
Subject: Fwd: Attached Document
Text:

I have an important document that i would like to share with you i uploaded it with Google document, CLICK HERE. for immediate access, please sign on with your email Respectfully.

Laila Brenner
 

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Lame spam of the day: Meeting invitation from George Adoo

I'm not sure if this one is lame (the subject, text, and double salutation are certainly lame) or clever.  This spam arrived in the form of a meeting invitation.  My Outlook spam filter (SpamBayes) doesn't seem to look at meeting invitations, and it also slipped past the SpamAssassin filter on my mail server.  Consequently I got a notification of an upcoming meeting with the spammer.  This thread shows that the problem has been around for a while.  Here are the details:

Organizer: johnnymark3000@gmail.com
Subject: Dear:
Meeting details:
more details »


Dear:

Dear:

Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business relationship with you I got your contact and choosed you by faith as a Christian,I must not hesitate to confide in you for this legal, truthful and Godly relationship.

I am George Adoo the only son of late Mrs David Adoo, I am 22 years old. My father was a very wealthy cocoa merchant in (Republic of Ghana) ,

my father was poisoned to death by his business associates on one of their outings on a business trip to England. My mother died when I was a baby and since then my father took me so special. Before the death of my father in a private hospital here in GHANA he secretly called me on his sick bed side and told me that he has the sum of four million five hundred thousand United State Dollars. USD($4.500,000) and euros 750,000.00 left in fixed / suspense account in a bank here in GHANA ,he used my name as his only son for the next of Kin in depositing of the fund.

my late father Instructed me to seek for a foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer this money and use it for investment purpose such as real estate management, hotel management or any other lucrative business venture.

Dear, I am honourably seeking for your assistance in the following ways: (1) To provide a bank account in which this money would be transferred to. (2) To serve as my guardian and of this fund since I am only 22years. (3) To make arrangement for me to come over to your country to further my education.

Note: I am willing to offer you 30% of the total sum as compensation for your effort/ input after the successful transfer of this fund to your nominated bank account. please make sure that you write me very fast for more details.

looking forward to hear from you urgently.

Best regards.
George Adoo


When
Mon Apr 8, 2013 12pm – 1pm Eastern Time
Calendar
johnnymark3000@gmail.com
Who
(Guest list has been hidden at organizer's request)

Going? ¬
Yes -
Maybe -
No ¬more options »

Invitation from Google Calendar

You are receiving this courtesy email because you are an attendee of this event.

To stop receiving future notifications for this event, decline this event. Alternatively you can sign up for a Google account at https://www.google.com/calendar/ and control your notification settings for your entire calendar.

Filed in Scam,Spam One Response so far

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