Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Online Shoplifting


Online shoplifting refers to the act of purchasing goods or services over the internet with the intention of fraud, typically through the use of stolen credit card information or other illegal payment methods. It is a form of cybercrime that results in financial loss for businesses and consumers. This term may also be used to describe the unlawful acquisition of goods or services through exploiting online system glitches or loopholes.


The phonetics for the keyword “Online Shoplifting” is: “On-line Sh-ap-lifting” In International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) it would be: /ˈɑːnˌlaɪn ˈʃɑːpˌlɪftɪŋ/

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Online shoplifting, also known as e-commerce fraud, is a prevalent cybercrime that involves stealing from online stores. Criminals typically use stolen credit card information to make unauthorized purchases.</li><li>Online shoplifting results in significant losses for businesses. Not only do they lose product and revenue, but they can also be penalized by credit card companies and face reputational damage.</li><li>There are various prevention methods businesses can implement to combat online shoplifting. These might include use of security software, demand for additional customer information for validation, and strict tracking of unusual shopping behaviors.</li></ol>


Online shoplifting, a form of e-commerce fraud, is an important term to understand in the realm of business/finance. It refers to the act of intentionally exploiting loopholes or weaknesses in an online retailer’s system to gain unauthorized benefits such as discounts, rewards, or even obtaining goods or services for free. This concept is essential as it portrays one of the significant challenges that businesses, particularly those operating online, face in their combat against fraud. The financial impact on a business from online shoplifting can be devastating, leading to substantial losses in revenue. Therefore, gaining awareness about this can help plan effective risk management strategies and bolster security measures, thereby ensuring business continuity and preserving trust with customers.


Online shoplifting, not to be mistaken for the physical act of theft in a physical store, generally involves fraudulent activities committed using the internet to unlawfully gain goods or services from online businesses. This can range from credit card fraud where stolen credit card details are used to purchase goods, to more sophisticated techniques such as exploiting weak website security systems for financial gain. Often, it may also include situations where customers intentionally deceive e-commerce systems, such as ordering a product, claiming it never arrived and receiving a refund, while in actuality, they received the product.The main purpose of online shoplifting is for the perpetrator to receive goods or services without paying their actual price or paying at all. It’s an exploit of trust-based systems often used by e-commerce platforms, and it’s an act that seeks to defraud these online businesses. Because of its potentially anonymous nature, online shoplifting has become an appealing crime for many as the risk of detection and punishment can be perceived as lower than traditional shoplifting. However, it’s important to mention that like any form of theft, it is illegal and carries serious consequences.


Online Shoplifting, also known as e-commerce fraud or digital shoplifting, involves stealing from businesses online. Here are three real-world examples:1. Wardrobing or Wear and Return: This practice is commonly seen in the fashion industry where customers purchase clothing, wear it once for an event, and then return it for a full refund. Asos, a British online fashion and cosmetic retailer, took action in 2019 by threatening to deactivate the accounts of customers suspected of wardrobing. 2. False Charge Backs: This type of fraud happens when a customer purchases goods or services online with their credit cards and then requests a chargeback from their issuing bank after receiving the purchased goods or services. An infamous case occurred in 2008 involving a group of individuals in the US who defrauded eBay sellers out of approximately $5 million through false chargeback claims.3. Friendly Fraud: In this scenario, a customer, often frequent, makes a purchase online and then reports it as unauthorized or claims the product was never received to their bank or credit card company, leading to a chargeback. In 2014, a woman in Pennsylvania was charged after falsely claiming she had not received items purchased on eBay worth $88,000, resulting in credit card companies reimbursing her based on her claims.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Online Shoplifting?

Online shoplifting refers to the act of using illegal methods to get products or services from an online store without paying for them. It can involve hacking, use of stolen credit card information, or misuse of coupon codes among other methods.

How can online shoplifting be detected?

Online shoplifting can be detected through measures such as tracking unusual customer behavior, monitoring for suspicious transactions, and watching for excessive use or misuse of discounts and coupon codes.

Is online shoplifting considered as theft?

Yes, online shoplifting is considered a form of theft. It involves acquiring goods or services without paying for them, which is illegal. It can lead to severe penalties including fines and jail time.

What kind of businesses are most vulnerable to online shoplifting?

Any business that operates online is potentially at risk of online shoplifting. However, businesses that deal in digital goods, like software, music, or movies, are particularly vulnerable due to the nature of their products.

How can businesses protect themselves from online shoplifting?

To mitigate the risk of online shoplifting, businesses should implement secure payment processes, consistently monitor transactions for suspicious activity, employ strong digital rights management systems, and use analytics to track and recognize abnormal customer behavior.

What are the effects of online shoplifting for a business?

The effects can be severe, leading not only to a direct loss of revenue from stolen goods or services, but also potential damage to the company’s reputation. It can also result in increased costs due to measures needed to prevent further theft.

If I suspect someone of online shoplifting, what should I do?

If you believe that an individual is engaging in online shoplifting, report your concerns to the business affected and, if necessary, to the police. It’s a serious crime and should be dealt with by the appropriate authorities.

Related Finance Terms

  • E-commerce Fraud
  • Digital Shoplifting
  • Card Not Present Fraud (CNP)
  • Chargebacks
  • Identity Theft

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More