#SellSafe – Safety Awareness for Online Shopping

EuropolEFECC launched the #SellSafe awareness campaign on 3 November as part of their 2021 eCommerce Action.

Organised crime groups are continuously adapting online fraud methods to exploit both online shoppers and e-commerce companies.  Their opportunities are growing!  Since the start of the pandemic the number of businesses selling online has increased, and the average shopper is using online services several times each week.  New technologies such as Secure Customer Authentication (SCA) or Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) have made online purchasing more secure, but cybercriminals are still finding ways to steal cash from online shoppers.

Europol launched the #SellSafe awareness campaign along with the Merchant Risk Council and participating countries.  This follows a successful campaign last year which highlighted the top tactics for fighting online fraud. The aim of the new campaign is to make e-commerce more secure by promoting safe online purchasing methods and by helping new merchants to open their first online shop without the risk of cyberattacks.

From 1 to 31 October 2021 law enforcement authorities from participating countries, supported by Europol and the Merchant Risk Council, joined forces in a coordinated action against online fraud as part of the 2021 eCommerce Action.  This resulted in 46 arrests linked to fraudulent transactions.  The criminal modus operandi involved the use of certain mobile apps associated with banks in order to make transfers and purchases illegally.  In 2019 an operation by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) led to 60 arrests as part of their #BuySafePaySafe action.

The 2021 #SellSafe participating countries include: Albania, Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Georgia, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland and the United States.

The participating countries will promote the campaign through their social media channels using the #SellSafe hashtag to help online shoppers understand the risks of e-commerce fraud.

The EAST Expert Group on Payment and Transaction Fraud (EPTF), which meets three times each year, focuses on the prevention of payment and transaction fraud, including social engineering and online transactions.  The next EPTF meeting will take place on 10 November 2021.


To protect online shoppers and merchants, Europol has provided a number of helpful tips to stay one step ahead of the scammers and to prevent financial loss.

Tips to protect your e-business:

  • Ensure all employees are aware of the fraud issues affecting online stores
  • Stay up to date on the types of payment fraud affecting businesses and have the tools in place to prevent them. Your national payments organisation will have details on payment fraud types
  • Get to know your customers in order to be able to verify their payments

Tips for online shoppers:

Never send your card number, PIN or any other card information to anyone by e-mail

  • Never send money to anyone you don’t know
  • Always save all documents related to your online purchases
  • If you are not buying anything, don’t submit your card details

Find more tips on how to protect yourself and your business from e-fraudsters here.

More general advice on how to shop safely online is available here.

Cross-border e-Commerce Police action leads to 95 arrests

Police forces across Europe have arrested 95 professional fraudsters and members of internet-based criminal networks in a successful cross-border e-Commerce Action (eComm 2018).

The joint law enforcement operation, coordinated by the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) from Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, was supported by 28 countries and ran from 4 to 15 June 2018. It received the direct assistance from merchants, logistic companies, and banks and payment card schemes. Europol also supported national authorities on-the-spot by providing analytical services in their investigations.

The main goal was to target online fraud through a coordinated law enforcement action within the European Union (EU) and beyond, followed by an awareness-raising campaign. This action also marks the start of several investigations with more arrests expected in the next few months. The activity was inspired by a similar UK pilot conducted in collaboration with Visa.

The suspects arrested during the operation were responsible for more than 20 000 fraudulent transactions with compromised credit cards, with an estimated value exceeding EUR 8 million.

The e-commerce action focused on combating card-not-present (CNP) fraud, to help create a safer online environment for customers worldwide by sharing information and developing best practices between law enforcement and the private sector. It promotes the hashtag  #BuySafePaySafe: tips to avoid becoming a fraud victim.

For more information visit Europol’s website.

Rui Carvalho, Chair of the EAST Payments Task Force (EPTF), represents EAST at Europol’s e-Commerce actions.