Close
Josh Lefkowitz
Chief Executive Officer
Josh Lefkowitz executes the company’s strategic vision to empower organizations with the fastest, most comprehensive coverage of threatening activity on the internet. He has worked extensively with authorities to track and analyze terrorist groups. Mr. Lefkowitz also served as a consultant to the FBI’s senior management team and worked for a top tier, global investment bank. Mr. Lefkowitz holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BA from Williams College.
Evan Kohlmann
Chief Innovation Officer
Evan Kohlmann focuses on product innovation at Flashpoint where he leverages fifteen years’ experience tracking Al-Qaida, ISIS, and other terrorist groups. He has consulted for the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Justice, the Australian Federal Police, and Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, among others. Mr. Kohlmann holds a JD from the Univ. of Pennsylvania Law School and a BSFS in International Politics from the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown Univ.
Josh Devon
Chief Operating Officer / Chief Product Officer
Josh Devon focuses on product vision and strategy at Flashpoint while ensuring the company’s departments function synergistically during its rapid growth. He also works to ensure that customers receive best in class products, services, and support. Previously, Mr. Devon co-founded the SITE Intelligence Group where he served as Assistant Director. He holds an MA from SAIS at Johns Hopkins Univ. At the Univ. of Pennsylvania, he received a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BA in English from the College of Arts and Sciences.
Chris Camacho
Chief Revenue Officer
As Chief Revenue Officer, Chris Camacho leads the company’s global sales team, which includes solution architecture, business development, strategic integrations, partnerships, and revenue operations; he is also the architect of Flashpoint’s FPCollab sharing community. With over 15 years of cybersecurity leadership experience, he has spearheaded initiatives across Operational Strategy, Incident Response, Threat Management, and Security Operations to ensure cyber risk postures align with business goals. Most recently as a Senior Vice President of Information Security at Bank of America, Mr. Camacho was responsible for overseeing the Threat Management Program. An entrepreneur, Mr. Camacho also serves as CEO for NinjaJobs: a career-matching community for elite cybersecurity talent. He has a BS in Decision Sciences & Management of Information Systems from George Mason University.
Lisa Iadanza
Chief People Officer
Lisa M. Iadanza leads all functional areas of People Operations at Flashpoint, including human resources, talent acquisition & management, employee engagement, and developing high performance teams. In addition to collaborating with the executive team to drive strategic growth, she plays an integral role in fostering Flashpoint’s culture and mission. Driven by her passions for mentorship, employee advocacy, and talent development, Ms. Iadanza has more than twenty years of experience in building, scaling, and leading human resources functions. Prior to Flashpoint, she held leadership roles at Conde Nast, Terra Technology, and FreeWheel. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and holds a bachelor’s degree in management with concentrations in human resources and marketing from State University of New York at Binghamton.
Donald Saelinger
President
Donald Saelinger is responsible for driving strategic and operational initiatives to accelerate Flashpoint’s growth and scale. In this role, Donald leads a broad portfolio including Marketing, Customer Success, Revenue Operations, Legal and related functions, and is focused on helping the company execute on a go-to-market approach that maximizes value to our customers. Prior to Flashpoint, Donald served as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of Endgame, Inc., an endpoint detection and response company acquired by Elastic N.V. in 2019, and where he led a range of teams focused on growth, scale, and legal and compliance matters. Donald also previously served as the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Opower, Inc. (NYSE: OPWR), a global provider of SaaS solutions to electric and gas utilities that was acquired by Oracle, Inc. in 2016. Donald graduated from Columbia University in 2000 and received his JD from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2006.
Rob Reznick
SVP Finance and Corporate Development
Rob Reznick leads the finance, accounting, and corporate development teams at Flashpoint. Rob previously served as Director of Finance & Accounting for 1010data (acquired by Advance/Newhouse), and Director of Finance for Financial Guard (acquired by Legg Mason) after prior work in forensic accounting and dispute consulting. Mr. Reznick is a Certified Public Accountant and holds an MBA and MAcc from the Fisher College of Business at the Ohio State University, and a BBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.
Tom Hofmann
SVP Intelligence
Tom Hofmann leads the intelligence directorate that is responsible for the collection, analysis, production, and dissemination of Deep and Dark Web data. He works closely with clients to prioritize their intelligence requirements and ensures internal Flashpoint operations are aligned to those needs. Mr. Hofmann has been at the forefront of cyber intelligence operations in the commercial, government, and military sectors, and is renowned for his ability to drive effective intelligence operations to support offensive and defensive network operations.
Jake Wells
SVP Solutions Architecture
Jake Wells leads strategic integrations and information sharing as part of the client engagement & development team, which serves as an internal advocate for our government and commercial clients to ensure Flashpoint’s intelligence solutions meet their evolving needs. He leverages a decade of experience running cyber and counterterrorism investigations, most recently with the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, to maximize the value customers generate from our products and services. Mr. Wells holds an MA from Columbia University and a BA from Emory University.
Brian Brown
SVP Strategy and Business Development
Brian Brown is responsible for the overall direction of strategic sales and development supporting Flashpoint’s largest clients. In his role, Mr. Brown focuses on designing and executing growth-oriented sales penetration strategies across multiple vertical markets, including both Government and Commercial, supporting Flashpoint’s Sales and Business Development Teams. An experienced entrepreneur, Mr. Brown also serves as CSO for NinjaJobs, a private community created to match elite cybersecurity talent with top tier global jobs and also advise growth-stage cybersecurity companies.
Justin Rogers
VP Revenue Operations
Justin Rogers leads the Revenue Operations team at Flashpoint, aligning sales, marketing, partnerships, customer success, and finance across vision, planning, process, and goals. He leverages over 15 years of experience in security, strategy, product design, and implementation to drive growth, provide an end-to-end view of the customer journey, and a seamless customer experience. Recently, Justin led Marketing for Centripetal, bringing the first Threat Intelligence Gateway to market. Previously, he managed operations of a Counter IED lab electronics forensics division while forward deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Justin holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of New Hampshire.
Peter Partyka
VP Engineering
Peter Partyka leads Flashpoint’s engineering teams. Peter previously worked in the quantitative hedge fund space in New York City, implementing security and administrative solutions around proprietary trading platforms, high-availability cloud deployments, and hardening of applications and infrastructure. Peter leverages more than 16 years of experience in technology specializing in application security, red-teaming, penetration testing, exploit development, as well as blue-teaming. Peter has a long track record of managing tech teams and implementing engineering security best practices. Recently Peter led Flashpoint toward GDPR and CCPA compliance and has been a key architect of Flashpoint’s robust compliance programs. Peter has taught advanced cybersecurity courses at New York University and consulted at various tech startups during his career.
Paul Farley
VP APAC Sales
Paul Farley is responsible for the Asia-Pacific region of Flashpoint's international business, including Australia, Japan, and Singapore. In his role at Flashpoint, Paul is executing growth-oriented sales strategies across multiple countries and vertical markets, including both Government and Commercial. Paul has extensive experience leading regional sales for both pre-IPO growth businesses and large organizations such as RSA, EMC and DELL.
Steven Cooperman
VP Public Sector Sales
Steven Cooperman is responsible for Flashpoint’s strategy and sales growth of its public sector business. He also supports the development of a robust partner ecosystem for public sector business to deliver value added offerings and innovation focused to the mission of government. Steven has an established and diverse career in the Public Sector, holding leadership positions at a number of successful enterprise software companies and Federal System Integrators, including ServiceNow, HP, Oracle and Northrop Grumman. He holds an MA in Analytic Geography from the State University of New York - Binghamton, and received his BS in Geology from the State University - Oneonta.
Matthew Howell
VP Product
Matthew Howell leads the Product Management and Product Marketing teams for Flashpoint. He is responsible for developing a strong team that drives product adoption and user engagement through outcome based prioritization, continuous process improvement, and metrics driven development. Matthew brings a passion for diverse ideas, experience launching B2B SaaS products, building integration ecosystems, supporting five 9s SLAs, and leading distributed teams. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Virginia
Glenn Lemons
Executive Director Strategic Accounts Engagement
Glenn Lemons is Executive Director, Strategic Accounts Engagement at Flashpoint. He previously served as the acting Director of Citigroup's Cyber Intelligence Center where he was responsible for analyzing and reacting to intelligence from a variety of threats. These threats ranged from fraudulent activity and attempting to defraud Citi's clients to supporting security operations for the firm's worldwide network presence. He has extensive experience working with multiple clients across the financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, and public sectors. Glenn also has more than 26 years of intelligence experience within the operational and support communities in the U.S. military and federal civilian service; seven of which focused on both defensive and offensive cyber operations. While working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, he testified numerous times before U.S. Congressional committees and member requested open and closed sessions.
Close
Steve Leightell
Steve started his career in Internet sales in the early 1990s and was always a top sales rep before transitioning to business development. By the early 2000s, he was the Director of Business Development at DWL, where he managed a team that built partnerships with Accenture, Oracle, Tata Consulting, Wipro, Cognizant and IBM. Steve designed the channel and strategy that ultimately culminated in the acquisition of DWL by IBM in 2005. He went on to lead a global team within IBM that was responsible for major system integrator partnerships. In 2008, he left IBM to found a niche consulting firm focused on business development for SaaS organizations. Steve holds a BA in anthropology and sociology from Carleton University in Ottawa.
Ellie Wheeler
Ellie Wheeler is a Partner at Greycroft and is based in the firm’s New York office. Prior to joining Greycroft, Ellie worked in a similar role evaluating investment opportunities at Lowercase Capital. Ellie also worked at Cisco in Corporate Development doing acquisitions, investments, and strategy within the unified communications, enterprise software, mobile, and video sectors. While at Cisco, she was involved in multiple acquisitions and investments, including PostPath, Jabber, Xobni, and Tandberg. She began her career in growth capital private equity at Summit Partners in Boston. Ellie graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University with a BA in Psychology and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Glenn McGonnigle
Glenn McGonnigle is a General Partner at TechOperators. Prior to launching TechOperators in 2008, Glenn was CEO of VistaScape Security Systems, a venture-backed provider of enterprise intelligent video surveillance software. He lead the company through its successful sale to Siemens Building Technologies. Previously, Glenn was a co-founder and senior executive of Atlanta-based Internet Security Systems (ISS) where he helped raise initial venture capital and launch the business. For 7 years, he led the business development team in developing sales channels and entering the managed security services market. During his tenure, the company grew from startup to revenues of over $225 million and was later acquired by IBM for $1.3 billion.
Brendan Hannigan
Brendan joined Polaris Partners in 2016 as an entrepreneur partner. In this role, he focuses on funding and founding companies in the technology sector with a concentration in cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity. Brendan is a co-founder of Sonrai Security and chairman of Twistlock, both Polaris investments. He also currently serves on the board of Bitsight Technologies and Flashpoint. A 25 year technology industry veteran, Brendan was most recently the general manager of IBM Security. Under Brendan’s leadership, IBM Security grew significantly faster than the overall security market to become the number one enterprise security provider in the world with almost $2B of annual revenue.
Matt Devost
Currently, Devost serves as CEO & Co-Founder of OODA LLC as well as a review board member for Black Hat. In 2010, he co-founded the cybersecurity consultancy FusionX LLC which was acquired by Accenture in August 2015, where he went on to lead Accenture's Global Cyber Defense practice. Devost also founded the Terrorism Research Center in 1996 where he served as President and CEO until November 2008 and held founding or leadership roles at iDefense, iSIGHT Partners, Total Intel, SDI, Tulco Holdings, and Technical Defense.

‘Tis the Season—for Retail Fraud: How Retailers Can Mitigate Risk During the Holidays

2021 Intelligence Wrap
November 22, 2021

This article is part of Flashpoint’s 2021 Intel Wrap-Up series. To read our physical security threat assessment for this upcoming holiday season, click here.

Key Takeaways

  • Exploitation of curbside pickup is a trending fraud tactic, highlight a new attack vector for threat actors—and a new mitigation front for retailers this holiday season.
  • Financially-motivated threat actors will continue to employ tried-and-true TTPs, including social engineering, to receive fraudulent refunds or to collect sensitive customer data and financial information.
  • Retailers can defend against fraudsters by rolling out security measures that cover the entirety of the evolving threat landscape, from implementing password rules to protect against account takeover (ATO), to employing a customer identity access management (CIAM) solution to maintain user privacy.

Why threat actors target retailers

Cybercriminals tend to increase their targeting of retailers during the holiday season in part due to spikes in consumer spending—both online and in-store. Retailers store loads of personally identifiable information (PII), like customers’ financial data, making them valuable targets for threat actors. Additionally, in-person shopping is likely to increase due to eased COVID restrictions, and that extra foot traffic could possibly lead to an increase in Card Present fraud.

So what does this look like in terms of numbers? Or rather, what does the retail honeypot look like to threat actors?

People love shopping

According to a recent online holiday shopping forecast report by Adobe, online global spending will reach $910B for the holiday season, which the report defines as Nov. 1 – Dec. 31. Furthermore, Deloitte predicts that holiday retail sales (online and in-store) will increase between 7-9% between November 2021 and January 2022. 

Shopping Ghosts of Christmas Past

According to Retail Info Systems’ 2021 Holiday Retail Forecasts and Predictions report, retail experts noted that they would be preparing for an early start to the holiday shopping season this year. This year, the holiday shopping season started in October in anticipation of supply chain and production-related issues, which can be attributed at least in part to the shortening of demand cycles and worker shortages. 

Online holiday shopping in the US grew 32.2% YoY in 2020, totaling about $188.2B in sales; for additional context, monthly e-commerce sales reached $100B for the first time last November. This study also found that in many cases, the option of curbside pickup boosted retailers’ sales during the 2020 holiday shopping season. Consumers spent the most on Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving).  

The retail fraud picture

During the holiday season, the retail sector is a primary target for financially-motivated threat actors. Retailers often store valuable personally identifiable information (PII) and financial information, including customer data and login credentials. Additionally, threat actors defraud retailers using refund schemes to acquire free or discounted goods.

Refund fraud

A January 2021 report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) states that online sales accounted for $102B of returned merchandise in 2020, which represents about a quarter of all returned merchandise ($428B) that year. Of all returned merchandise originally posted online, about 7.5% of them were fraudulent (~$428B).

Refund-as-a-service

Within Flashpoint’s collections, the volume of discussion surrounding “refund fraud” has been consistently high throughout the year. Flashpoint analysts have noticed a recent increase in offerings of refunds-as-a-service, where a threat actor will secure a fraudulent refund on behalf of their “buyers.” 

Threat actors tend to offer refund fraud in a variety of “packages”—buyer options, so to speak. In some cases, threat actors will advertise just the facilitating the refund itself, wherein they will use their knowhow with specific retailers to successfully return goods and then push those funds or credits back to the buy, minus a cut. 

In other cases, a threat actor offering the service first makes the purchase—using stolen financial information, gift cards, or compromised accounts or credentials—and then initiates the fraudulent refund. These threat actors often charge a percentage of the order or return total for their services as well. 

Image via Flashpoint platform.

Give-and-take: Sharing retail fraud tactics with fellow threat actors

In order to improve their methods of manipulating customer service departments and bypass refund policies, threat actors also share their experiences dealing with specific retailers inside of their illicit communities and forums. 

General social engineering techniques, like the “did not arrive” method and “empty box” methods, continue to be successful among threat actors and will likely persist. Within Flashpoint collections, the “fake tracking ID” (FTID) method has consistently been one of the most highly discussed methods, though it is regarded as one of the most difficult to carry out. 

Credit card and payment card fraud

Card Not Present fraud allows threat actors to acquire large quantities of stolen cards and credentials, which they can use to fund illegitimate purchases or resell them to other carders. These carders may then leverage the exposed data via card cloning or digital shopping account linking. 

Threat actors can obtain this data opportunistically if it has been inadvertently leaked, such as via a misconfigured network device. Threat actors may also target financial records and other PII from poorly secured websites or leverage compromised bank logs to access financial information. 

Targeting content management systems

Within Flashpoint collections, analysts have observed a moderate number of advertisements for access to e-commerce content management systems (CMS). It is likely, given the increase in shopping during the holiday season, that threat actors will attempt to exploit this access to harvest customer information stored in CMS panels, including credit card or payment information. These advertisements are most commonly observed on Russian- and English-language forum Exploit. Threat actors have been observed auctioning access to a variety of retailers globally. 

Gift card fraud

Gift card fraud is the practice of fraudsters cashing out stolen credit cards by purchasing gift cards. Threat actors generally buy high-value gift cards to use themselves at a later date. Some also advertise gift card services on the deep and dark web and within illicit communities, in which they acquire goods using gift cards purchased with stolen funds and sell them at a discount. 

Social engineering

During the holiday shopping season, it’s highly likely that threat actors will send consumers phishing emails and text messages masquerading as legitimate advertisements or customer service–related emails from retailers. These social engineering messages aim to pressure consumers into disclosing sensitive information, such as credit card data, by offering fake benefits, like discounts or merchandise.

Smishing

According to a September 2021 Proofpoint study, smishing attacks—a portmanteau of SMS and phishing—have increased by almost 700% since the beginning of the year (Jan – Sept. 2021). 

Smishing attacks are usually used to collect targets’ personal information or financial data via their mobile devices. Smishing attacks enable threat actors to obtain sensitive information from their victims by buying compromised credentials en masse on deep and dark web marketplaces. In more targeted attacks, threat actors can collect specific information from public social media accounts like Facebook or LinkedIn. 

It is likely that smishing attacks will be popular social engineering this holiday season.  

Card-not-present fraud mitigation

In order to mitigate many of these aforementioned threats, retailers can limit the amount of time they accept holiday shopping returns, thereby shrinking the fraud window and, therefore, the number of fraudulent returns. 

The main burden of stopping card-not-present fraud lies with merchants and the financial institutions that issue the cards. Merchants can use a variety of authentication tools to ensure that buyers are the legitimate cardholders. 

Customer identity access management solutions (CIAMs)

Retailers can also mitigate the risk of leaking sensitive data by employing customer identity access management solutions (CIAMs). CIAMs share preliminary customer data, like email addresses, only with the pertinent resources in a retailer’s network environment, maintaining the privacy and security of customer data by not allowing it to be accessed by those who do not need it. CIAMs also support the use of single sign-on (SSO), which can provide an easy and secure way for customers to log on to a retailer’s site.

MFA

Retailers should implement multi-factor authentication. Meanwhile, they can encourage consumers to enable multi-factor authentication for retailer-specific accounts as well as with their financial institutions that enable their card payments. 

Contactless payments

Contactless payment is more secure because payments generally require biometric scanning, a passcode, or a one-time password in order to carry out a transaction.

Employee training

Employee training is also useful for setting a baseline of security best practices, and can also help to detect and mitigate social engineering attacks used in refund fraud schemes.

Patching

Retailers and consumers should consistently update and patch the software of all internet-connected devices. 

Password hygiene

Additionally, they should use proper password hygiene, like employing strong passwords and regularly changing passwords, to protect against credential stuffing, brute-force attacks, and password spraying. 

Physical security: Threats to retail sector

With many COVID-19 restrictions lifted, researchers have also found that in-person shopping is also likely to increase over the 2021 holiday shopping season. According to a recent Boston Consulting Group survey, only 14% of consumers said they would not be shopping in stores this holiday season. 

Curbside pickup

A hybrid shopping experience, curbside pickup enables retailers to reduce overall foot traffic while catering to a variety of consumer preferences, some of which continue to be influenced by COVID-19. 

Flashpoint analysis have observed threat actors advertising “curbside methods” on illicit communities, targeting large retailers and their curbside pickup services. While threat actors generally do not share the techniques of their methods publicly, the advertised curbside methods are likely not sophisticated and will rely mostly on social engineering techniques and the use of stolen financial data.

On November 15, Flashpoint analysts observed a threat actor advertising their curbside method, wherein they charge 50% of the total cost of the item that will be acquired. This advertised method likely involves the use of stolen payment card information to place a curbside pickup order, based on the services provided, though the threat actor does not explicitly state this in the advertisement. 

On November 12, Flashpoint analysts observed a threat actor soliciting advice on placing fraudulent orders. One threat actor suggested employing a private browser window to place one order at a time and then using curbside pickup. This method may suggest the use of stolen retail login credentials to place an order. 

Curbside + card-present fraud

Retailers could also possibly expect an increase in card-present fraud, wherein a criminal uses physically stolen credit cards or gift cards to complete fraudulent transactions. 

Additionally, threat actors will likely opportunistically take advantage of point-of-sale (POS) systems, which may be overworked during this holiday season or possibly running outdated software. With the increase in contactless payments, researchers warn that threat actors could also take advantage of payment features on lost or stolen smartphones. 

See Flashpoint’s Card Fraud Solutions in Action 

Flashpoint partners with institutions of all sizes to address credit and payment card fraud threats, including many of the top global banks and retailers. Flashpoint’s Card Fraud solutions equip security teams with the tools, dashboards, alerts, and actionable intelligence they need to proactively identify threats, prevent card fraud, and take action to combat exposure to risk. Sign up for a demo or a free 30-day trial today.

CIR Intelligence Report

Flashpoint Intelligence Brief

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date on our latest research, news, and events