GCA Spotlight: Scamadviser

In the latest installment of our GCA Spotlight series, we’re talking with Jorij Abraham of Scamadviser.com. Jorij is the General Manager of the Ecommerce Foundation, the umbrella organization for Scamadviser, and he is also a co-founder and producer of the successful, first ever Global Online Scam Summit (GOSS) that took place online November 12.  Andy Bates, GCA Executive Director of UK, Middle East, and India also joined the conversation. Andy is leading GCA’s Domain Trust project, which he announced at the GOSS event.

Jorij, please tell us a bit about the work of ScamAdviser.com and your motivation to organize the Global Online Scam Summit (GOSS).

Scamadviser, which is based in Amsterdam, helps more 2.5 million consumers every month to discover if a website is legitimate or a scam. The website was founded in 2012 by Marc, a developer in the U.K. who had his own experience with being scammed in an online purchase. He wanted to help shoppers make well-informed decisions before buying. In 2018, Scamadviser became part of the Ecommerce Foundation, an independent organization working with NGOs, ecommerce associations worldwide, and other ecommerce institutions to foster global digital trade.

Scamadviser helps consumers make their online shopping decisions by rating websites with the Scamadviser Trust Score. The algorithm of Scamadviser utilizes 40 independent data sources. From the IP address of the web server, the availability of contact details on the website, the age of the URL, ratings on review sites, and more. We have about 50,000 new domain names being posted to our site every day.

We are supported financially by digital advertising, as well as some support from social media and AV companies. It’s a very grassroots effort!

Apart from Scamadviser, the Ecommerce Foundation publishes 20+ free ecommerce reports annually about how to sell online in 50+ countries. It is the host of EcommerceWiki.org, an online community for 40.000 Ecommerce Professionals and the initiator of Safe.Shop, the Global Ecommerce Trustmark.

What motivated me to develop the GOSS event was the need I saw for more information sharing. I was working with Europol in April as they were dealing with COVID-19 scams and realized we needed to do much more. So, while the need for more awareness about cybercrime had already existed, the pandemic certainly put a spotlight on it. This was an impetus for the idea of pulling people together specifically to share ideas and lessons learned to fight scams that led to the creation of the GOSS event, which we held online on November 12.

An incredible list of speakers and participating organizations, a well-structured and varied agenda, short and focused presentations, a flawless organization… How did you manage to build such a unique event in such a short period of time, from the idea in April to execution in November? 

It was really a great collaborative effort. I reached out to as many people I knew as I could and asked if they wanted to be involved. Fortunately, almost all said yes immediately. I think part of it had to do with the fact that people are not traveling as much due to the pandemic, so have more time available to join webinars. “He’s actually being quite modest,” interjected Andy Bates. “He is super organized, has an amazing Rolodex of contacts, and most important: people trust him. When he is involved, people know it will be worthwhile and want to help him!”

414 registrations from 42 different countries and an average stay in the conference for 126 minutes (the whole event ran for five hours) sounds like a big success! How would you summarize the results of the event? What are the highlights from your perspective?

I am really pleased with the number of participants and the level of engagement we had. I think the pandemic has helped bring a sense of urgency to the issues and that fostered great collaboration and out-of-the box thinking. We are often fragmented in our approaches, particularly in Europe, and the GOSS event helped bridge some gaps.

Some of the organizations that attended the GOSS event already collaborate with each other and share common objectives. Do you think this event will strengthen those links and will bring some more ground for collaboration in the fight against online scams?

Absolutely! There can never be enough sharing.

Andy, one of the highlights of GOSS was the “soft launch” announcement of the GCA Domain Trust project. Can you share a bit about that and what results you’ve seen since the event?

Internet domains are a major vector for cyber-attacks. They are used by criminals and state-sponsored actors to conduct attacks that deliver malware, defraud people, and conduct other illicit activity. Domains can be registered quickly, cheaply, and in bulk allowing cyber criminals to move quickly to keep ahead of detection. Large corporations (such as ISPs), security companies, and law enforcement agencies regularly log these malicious attacks but are faced with the challenge of who to turn to for action to be taken against these domains.

Our Domain Trust platform has been created specifically to meet this need. Domain Trust brings together members of the law enforcement, registry/registrar, and business communities to address malicious and criminal domains at scale in a coordinated fashion.

We announced our Domain Trust effort at GOSS and invited participation. I’m thrilled to say that as a result, we already have 10 organizations interested in collaborating with us! The entire GOSS event was a huge success from my perspective, and all the feedback I’ve seen has been very positive. 

How are you planning to keep the flame of GOSS 2020 alight and transition to GOSS 2021?

We are working on building out the plan for 2021, but I think we definitely would like to continue it in 2021. I think what makes this event different from some others is that it is enabling business and law enforcement to directly help consumers. I see lots of opportunity ahead.