Running successful sales promotions is a key strategy for many brands looking to boost their revenue and engage with their customers. However, as the number and diversity of digital transactions accelerate, so do the tactics used by those looking to exploit promotions for their own gain. This rise in promotional fraud can cause significant financial loss for your business and negatively impact its brand reputation.

We explored the rise in promotional fraud and what types of fraud are most prevalent in an earlier blog. Now, new data from Ekata reveals that ecommerce fraud is expected to exceed $48 billion in 2023, up from $41 billion in 2022. So, what can you do to minimise the risk to your business?

In this blog, we look at ways to help you tackle promotional fraud, first identifying what promotions are at the highest risk and then what strategies can be put in place to prevent it.

Understanding a promotion’s risks versus the benefits

As a global sales promotion agency, we’ve handled over 4 million claims across 40+ countries. So, when it comes to fraud, we fully understand the risks involved.

In general, the bigger and more widespread the promotion, the more likely it will be to be targeted by fraud. However, as these types of promotions also often generate some of the best revenue and awareness for your brand, we don’t want to discourage you from running them. Yet, we do need to increase fraud awareness and implement robust prevention measures.

What sales promotions are at a high risk of fraud?

With our significant experience in designing and delivering sales promotions, we’ve identified several key aspects that can lead to a higher risk of fraud. These include:

  • Promotion type
  • Volume
  • Claim process
  • Other risks

Promotion type

Cashback campaigns are one of the higher-risk promotions. These are where monetary rewards are paid via digital prepaid cards, bank transfers or other specified methods to customers who purchase a designated product.

Prepaid cards can significantly increase risk, as they’re generally high value and desirable to the fraudster. By working closely with your prepaid card provider and sharing intelligence, you can work to reduce this threat.

Gift with Purchase promotions are also a top target for fraud. These offer customers gifts when they purchase a specified product, and typically, the higher the value of the gift, the higher the fraud risk.


High-volume promotions will understandably attract more fraud attacks as there are more opportunities. However, high volume also refers to the number of claims permitted per household. To reduce risk, submissions per household should be less than three.


Higher-value promotions are also very appealing to fraudsters, especially when gifts have a high resale value.

Claim process

The ways claims are processed also impact the prevalence of fraud, for example:

  • If photographic evidence of purchase is not required
  • If the promotion offers an instant claim period or instant validation
  • When claim processes use an algorithm that can be easily decoded

Put measures in place in your promotion to avoid these circumstances, and you’ll quickly reduce fraudulent attempts.

Other risks

There are a whole variety of other factors that can make a sales promotion susceptible to fraud. A few key examples include:

  • A new promotion concept – these require a careful risk assessment
  • High marketing activity, which increases awareness and interest (sometimes from unwanted parties)
  • Multiple retailers or geographical locations used in the promotion
  • Promotions in high-risk territories
  • Terms and conditions that are complex to police
  • The use of certain branded gifts or retailers (there are trends for particular retailers to be targeted)

What strategies help reduce promotional fraud?

While fraud attacks are increasing and continually evolving, this should not deter you from leveraging the very effective tactic of sales promotions to drive sales and gain market share. However, it is essential that your fraud prevention strategies are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they continue to offer the necessary protection.

At Opia, we have proven expertise in implementing fraud strategies that safeguard our clients and their promotional activity. Our Fraud Strategy Framework is made up of four key elements:

Prevention – proactively managing fraud risk

Detection – enhancing our technology, manual checks and knowledge

Investigation – consistently and thoroughly; saving intelligence for future prevention

Deterrence – making fraud attacks difficult by ensuring they result in severe consequences

Within this framework, there are specific key actions we advise implementing, particularly when running high-risk promotions. These include:

  • Delaying the fulfilment period for promotions by up to 30% of the fulfilment period for Gift with Purchase promotions and up to 50% for cashback promotions
  • Implementing stricter fraud policies, for example, using a higher percentage of checks when processing claims
  • Considering whether optical character recognition is a suitable tool for verifying claims and whether further manual checks are required
  • Regular reviewing fraud levels on your campaign to identify any red flags
  • Carrying out regular spot checks on all retailers, particularly those identified as high-risk
  • Monitoring of online traffic, identifying and evaluating any suspicious behaviour

These steps are some of the critical measures needed to minimise fraud in a high-risk promotion, helping to combat its costly impact on your business and its reputation.

However, every promotion is unique in its approach and will require a tailored approach to fraud prevention. By partnering with Opia, our skilled fraud team can support you in implementing robust strategies that ensure your sales promotions are protected.

To find out more, please get in touch with our team.