Don’t Fall For This Amazon Scam – Here’s What Happened to Me!
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As unemployment numbers are soaring due to the coronavirus quarantine, it seems that phone and online scams are on the rise including identity theft, virtual credit card skimming, and more. According to the FTC, Americans have lost $13.4 million to fraud linked to COVID-19 since the beginning of the year, in addition to the millions of dollars that are scammed every day related to online shopping, credit cards, and phony IRS bills.
Y’all might want to grab a cup of coffee ☕️ and maybe even a snack 🥨 because my story is going to be kind of long, but I think it’s important to know these scams are out there.
Here’s how I dealt with an Amazon imposter:
I recently received an email that appeared to be legit at first glance, but it wasn’t… it was in fact a total scam. I thought I’d share my experience with you and give a few tips on what to look for in order to keep your information safe and to avoid being scammed.
I received an email “from Amazon” that stated a Sony PlayStation had been shipped to an address in California. Oddly enough, I knew the exact area as I used to live in a neighboring city. My first thought was, “oh man, someone has hacked my Amazon account and I should call.” Luckily this “official” email had all of the information I needed in order to take care of it. 🙄
🚫Red Flag #1: At a closer glance, I noticed that the email originated from a Gmail account instead of from @Amazon.com.
Amazon order emails typically come from <firstname.lastname@example.org>, and definitely NOT a Gmail account!
🚫Red Flag #2: “If you did not place this order” is never in the verbiage that Amazon uses when sending out shipment notifications.
This has never shown up on ANY of my previous Amazon order details… something seemed very off about this!
🚫Red Flag #3: Oh look! There’s a handy dandy phone number for me to call about my fraudulent order.
Wait a minute, Amazon will never mention in their emails that you should call them if you didn’t place an order. There isn’t even a phone number included in the emails that they send. I think I’ve called them maybe once in the 20+ years I’ve been a customer (and it took forever to find the number to call). In fact, Amazon doesn’t want you to call, it’s much easier (and faster) for them to handle your issues via their online customer support chat.
🚫Red Flag #4: Currently, Amazon emails do not include the full address in the shipment confirmation email, only the city, and state.
The fraudulent email has the entire address right there so that the recipient will see it and instantly think OMG I didn’t place that order, leading you to possibly call their fraudulent hotline.
🚫Red Flag #5: Weird formatting.
As you can see from my screencap, Amazon shipment emails are currently formatted with this box set up with concise information about your purchase. The fraudulent email contains just way too much information. They want you to react based on the email alone and NOT go to your Amazon account.
I shop on Amazon almost every day (so much so that I may need an intervention), so from the look of the fraud email it seems they have mimicked the cart page from Amazon and not the shipment email, nice try scammers.
So what did I do?
I like to get to the bottom of things and these scammers make me so angry, so I decided to call their “Amazon Hotline”. When my call was finally answered, it was a computer sounding voice.
After pressing 1 to speak to someone, the phone rang several times. I imagined a random dude on the other end, sitting there in a tank top and boxers eating Funyuns and drinking a PBR waiting for someone to call.
Finally, a guy answered and even threw in the pleasantries of asking me how I was doing and thanking me for being a valued Amazon shopper for two years. Hold up, I haven’t given you any information, my caller ID is blocked but you know how many years I’ve been shopping? Nice try pal, I’ve been with Amazon for decades, but whatever. 🙄
He then asked me for my order number and I replied with 123456-7892020, asked my name and I told him Julia Roberts (go big or go home, right?!). He asked for my email and I replied with email@example.com. He clearly could not have cared what I said, because even with the fake email, fake name, and fake order number, he was magically able to pull up “my” PlayStation order.
He then said, “your order is due to arrive by Friday, did you place this order or was this someone else making a fraudulent purchase with your account?” Wow, I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked that by any customer service rep I’ve ever spoken with from any company.
I played along and said, “OMG I did not place that order! Please cancel it, whatever shall I do?” My sarcasm was clearly lost on “Pete from Amazon”. Luckily “Pete” was super helpful and gave me the name of a website (not Amazon) that I need to go to and enter my payment information to update it.
Sadly, he told me that my Amazon account would need to be locked for two days while they investigate. But don’t worry, once we have your updated payment information we can start the process to reinstate your account. Listen here “Pete”, I need to order a case of Slim Jims to get me through this quarantine so I’m gonna need to order today.
“Pete” was also so helpful and was going to give me information on how to change my Amazon password – but on a different portal than Amazon. Man, the help never ends with this guy, shout out to “Amazon” for hiring such a stellar employee! I was trying to keep him on the phone as long as I could because I knew every minute I had him distracted was another minute someone else might not be scammed. I was working so I just kept typing away while he carried on with wanting me to give him info.
After a while, I had enough and I informed “Pete” that I knew he was a scammer and he needed to stop. He acted heartbroken that I would think that and kept asking me “what do you mean a scam”.
In my best I need to speak to the manager voice, I gave “Pete” a few choice (but clean) words and told him to stop scamming people. Sadly, “Pete” hung up on me. Dang, maybe I should call Jake from State Farm so I’ll have someone to talk to. 😀
On further research, it seems that the same phone number has also been tied to a social security scam, the website I found even had the audio sample from the phone call. I’ve gotten those before and played along, giving fake numbers and even kept one on the phone for over an hour while I was working. He assured me that I was going to jail if I didn’t comply with his instructions. 🤣🙄
Oddly enough, as I was writing this post, I received a phone call from “Pete from Amazon”, he even gave me his (faux) Amazon employee ID. He wanted to call and follow up on my call yesterday and find out if I’m ok and if I still need the information on how to change my payment information. Nah man, I’m good, you’re a scammer. Once again I broke his heart and he hung up on me. I’m guessing blocking my caller ID didn’t work.
So friends, please be extra vigilant when you suspect an email or phone call is one of these scammers.
Also, speak with senior citizens that are friends or family about these type of scams. Many times they prey on older people who may not know that it is a scam.
Here are a few ways to protect yourself from online/phone scams:
- Slow down. It’s natural to panic when you receive a phone call or email that leads you to believe your information has been compromised. Give yourself a little time to do your research, and to check your account to see if unauthorized purchases have been made.
- Don’t respond to texts, emails, or calls about checks from the government.
- Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from low-priced health insurance to work-at-home schemes.
- Check the official FTC website and read through some of the current imposter scams and educate yourself on what to look for.
- When in doubt ask friends online. I’ve seen many people ask about weird calls or emails via posting on Facebook. You’ll quickly find that many of your friends have possibly received the same email as well.
Stay safe friends!
These are crazy times we are living in, I hope that this information was helpful and will possibly prevent you from being a victim of a scam.