Amazon has once again been targeted by scammers in a smart phishing scam. Crooks are targeting Amazon buyers and are either setting up independent seller accounts or hijacking reputable existing ones. Once this is done, scammers offer expensive items at unbeatable prices.
Then, scammers fail to fulfill an order for a product listed on Amazon. When the buyer emails them for help, the fraudulent merchants prompt the buyer to complete the purchase outside of Amazon. This is an illustration of a quite convincing phishing attempt. Needless to say, users who fall for the scam will never receive the order.
How Is the Amazon Phishing Scam Working?
First of all, requesting payment outside of Amazon’s shopping cart is prohibited, and is not a method used by legitimate sellers. Furthermore, Amazon has an in-house merchant-to-customer messaging system and communication via email or other channels should be considered suspicious from the very beginning.
Comparitech’s Lee Munson has performed a test. In it, the item for sale is a big LCD TV usually sold at around £2,300, but the scammer offers it at almost half the price.
The condition of the product is described as brand new. Upon attempting to buy the product, Amazon displays an error, saying that there was a problem with the item in the order. If the buyer really wants the item, he will try to contact the seller via Amazon’s in-house messaging system. However, the seller will still push him to move the conversation to email.
As seen in the examples, the order prompts the buyer to pay via direct bank transfer to a private bank account. It may appear that the payment will take place through Amazon Payments but in fact it won’t. Once the buyer-turned-victim finalizes the payment by following the scammers’ instructions, they lose their money for good. Amazon won’t refund them because the payment hasn’t happened through their native payment system.
In Amazon’s words:
Payment within the Amazon.co.uk site is the only authorised and recognised form of payment for items sold by Sellers on Amazon.co.uk. Every customer who orders on Amazon.co.uk is covered by our A-to-z guarantee; however items paid for outside of the Amazon.co.uk Marketplace aren’t eligible for protection.
Unfortunately, scammers typically create new accounts once the old ones have been blocked. Users should know that and should always be extra vigilant when shopping online.