Amazon Warns Order Scams Are on the Rise After Initiating Takedowns of 20,000 Phishing Websites

HAGERSTOWN, MD, USA - MAY 5, 2017: Image of an Amazon packages.
Julie Clopper / Getty Images

As the holiday season approaches, so do more scammers intent on fleecing money out of vulnerable or unprotected victims. Per ABC News, Amazon has already begun takedowns of more than 20,000 phishing websites and 10,000 phone numbers associated with business-impersonation scams.

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Amazon is warning consumers to be on alert for fake Amazon employees phishing for consumers’ credit card information, bank account information or Social Security number. Said scammers often use these pieces of information to commit identity theft. Calls or text messages from a scammer may claim a problem with your account, a failed credit card payment or a lost package — in reality, these are a form of confirmation scam.

Fraudulent text messages are popular among identity and financial thieves right now. A common example asks a potential Amazon customer to contact customer care regarding an order (an order they never placed, in actuality). Another fraudster may use a fake order number and an apparent emergency with the payment to get a person to contact “Amazon” (in reality, the scammer or their associates) for a refund.

As Amazon’s vice president of selling partner services, Dharmesh Mehta, told ABC’s “Good Morning America,” scammers often emphasize that urgency is required to repair whatever order problem exists.

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“A scammer will send a fake order confirmation looking like you bought something online or in a store and pretend that you need to urgently contact customer service,” said Mehta. “And they’ll give you a link or a phone number to try and contact them.”

How To Avoid Amazon Text or email Scams

Scammers are often convincing and sound official, so you must be cautious. Amazon recommends the following preventative measures:

  • Do not click on any suspicious links.
  • Do not call or text any phone numbers you don’t recognize.
  • Be wary of any sense of urgency being pushed by an alleged contact.
  • When in doubt, contact customer service directly and file a report.
  • When using email, look for the Amazon smile logo. That is an icon used to verify the message is directly from Amazon. (Though this, too, could be replicated).

Job recruiting scams are nothing new, but there seems to be an uptick in these recently too, especially those promising guaranteed or easy income from fake Amazon representatives.

According to CBS8’s transparency advocate platform VERIFY, fraudsters are increasingly contacting Facebook and Twitter users and hijacking group messages with enticing remote, well-paid offers. They are even targeting people directly through personal, direct messaging with posts like this:

“Hello, are you looking for a part-time job now? We provide sales growth services for Amazon, and you can get a stable income of $10-200 in just one hour a day. You do not need to pay any deposit or membership fee, regardless of gender, 25-70 years old, and the Commission is paid every day. If you are interested, please add my telegram.”

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An Amazon spokesperson told VERIFY that the company will never ask job candidates for cash in any form — or at any point in the application process — but thieves are starting to drag out information with false promises. Fraudsters then recommend enabling a separate cross-platform messenger, like Telegram, to communicate.

Back in April, AARP reviewed popular scams for 2022 and noted a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report claiming that one-third of all business-imposter fraud complaints involve someone purporting to work for Amazon. It’s unfortunate, but people seem to trust “Amazon” swindlers, possibly because the brand is such a well-known and widely popular retail entity.

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When it comes to scammers trying to get your money (and personal information), protect yourself by using common sense and continuing to monitor your identity everywhere. If you receive correspondence you think may be fraudulent and may not be from Amazon, you can report it using Amazon’s reporting form.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.
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