My friend Auren Hoffman has an interesting post on the “Black Hat” Tax on consumer Internet businesses, basically pegging the cost of dealing with all aspects of fraud, scams, phising, and related government legal requests,… to 25% of revenues. He then goes on to mention a couple of examples:
A great example is PayPal. The book PayPal Wars details an intense battle the engineering team and even the CEO fought against fraud. This was one of the consuming issues of the company. Now PayPal is a financial institution, so you would expect lots of fraud. But dating?
After surveying most of the dating sites, I have found that one of their top three issues is fraud. A frequent scam is to contact an unsuspecting middle-age man from a profile of a good looking woman saying "my husband is beating me here in Moscow, please send $2000 so I can buy a plane ticket and escape." The unsuspecting chap sends the money only to never hear from the person again. Apparently there are scam factories in the Philippines and other places that have thousands of people, paid on 50% commission, working to scam unsuspecting dupes in this way. And one success a month is $1000/mo which compares well to many countries where the avg salary might only be $200/mo.
Troubling, and unfortunately, the statement that it is only going to get worse is very credible. Just check this piece in this morning’s New York Times: Technology and Easy Credit Give Identity Thieves an Edge.