Who hasn’t heard of Amazon? Millions of people visit one of the largest e-com platforms in the world. Whether you come to buy or sell, your opportunity could only be a few clicks away.
But how did Amazon get this far? Their secret is customer obsession: what’s best for the buyer is what’s best for us. Customers always value lower prices, faster shipping, and higher quality. If you agree on these principles, the Everything store may be the right place to fund your brand.
But don’t confuse freedom with control. Amazon controls more and more retail businesses to secure the best deal for their customers. This influence, at times, leads others to benefit from the system by deceiving people.
Let us know if you’ve ever been in any of these scenarios:
- You receive a message asking for further account information. You end up losing your identity.
- You find offers that are too good to be true, whether it’s a survey, a job, or a listing.
- Because customers are “valued,” you have to issue a requested refund for no reason, even without returning the item.
Is it Amazon’s fault to let all of that happen? Yes and no. It’s hard to manage a giant retail store. It also depends on the fraud triangle and buyer’s responsibility. When it comes to the last, nobody cares about the fraud until it happens.
- How Can You Get Scammed On Amazon?
- Beware Of The Red Flags
- Types Of Amazon Scams
- Preventing The Scams
How Can You Get Scammed On Amazon?
Scams happen every day in all shapes and colors, Amazon being unaware of most of them. Luckily, people take preventive measures after realizing scams are a real threat.
Protection requires awareness. If you’ve never got scammed, it doesn’t mean you’ll never do. At the same time, you don’t need to fall for one to learn to stay safe.
Amazon con men categorize in:
- Opportunists. Sellers or buyers who want the best deal at any cost. Sellers may overprice undervalued items, while buyers try to get an almost free product via discounts and refund guarantees. There’s nearly no way to defend against these (you can’t change how Amazon works); luckily, they happen rarely.
- Imposters: your worst threat. These con men can fake anything they want: customer accounts, credit cards, product listings, even Amazon itself. Because they disguise so well, Amazon can’t spot imposters, which often hide under a fake/stolen identity.
Why Scam On Amazon?
Could Amazon be the riskiest place to buy online? That’s easy to misrepresent. The retail giant has countless clients, which may make it look as if there were more scammers. Thanks to the security measures, Amazon is safe most of the time.
But this protection won’t remove the three biggest motivations to scam on Amazon:
- More buyers. The platform’s community grows faster and faster. Knowing that most people visit the site with a purchase intent, scammers can’t resist this gold mine.
- Customers come first. Sellers can rarely do anything against unethical buyers. If customers, however, blame a seller, Amazon considers the seller guilty until proven otherwise. This preference may also cause refund fraud.
- Easy to manipulate. It’s easy to open multiple buyer accounts with credit cards. Easy to hijack other listings and steal someone else’s revenue. Easy to pose as Amazon on a message.
Beware Of The Red Flags
Because they hardly ever happen, you may confuse scams with legit deals: they happen when you least expect it.
Before we show you how to spot them, here’s a warning. Do not reply/interact with a suspicious person if it is not required. Any response tells the scammer you’re an active user he wants to con. The best way to protect against scams is to ignore/delete the messages.
#1 Too Good To Be True
You know what we mean.
- You find a crazy deal with no product reviews nor seller feedback.
- You haven’t launched your product yet, and someone has already bought thirty units with expensive shipping.
- You apply for an Amazon job/survey/contest, and you instantly win. You’ve probably been caught in a survey scam.
- Amazon promises you a cash gift on email.
- Amazon offers hundreds of commission dollars for reviewing a product/ buying items/ managing funds.
As you gain experience, you learn what “normal behavior” looks like. Any spike is either artificial or a trend. A simple exercise to know when something is overly good: Would I pay someone that much for such simple tasks?
#2 Too many suspicious messages from Amazon
By suspicious, we mean:
- Constant security alerts to update your data.
- Warnings about identity theft.
- Order verifications, even when you ordered nothing.
- Unexpected prizes/giveaway offers.
- Messages in unusual formats: SMS, phone calls, advertising outside the platform.
Unusual behavior involves imposters. Although intrusive tactics can raise suspicion, imposters still need to reach out directly. They can’t do it organically because it’s too slow, and Amazon would catch them.
Once a message raises your alarms, you can double-check by consulting with Amazon Support.
#3 Unrelated notices
“You have to renew your Prime Subscription,” but you didn’t have one.
“Your order will be canceled if you don’t verify it via this link,” but the order already arrived/you bought nothing.
“You qualify for a job opportunity,” but you already work for Amazon.
Most likely, it’s an imposter sending messages to random addresses, hoping that the ones who match believe the confidence trick.
It might mean someone is using your account without consent. If you don’t recognize the notification, check your account or ask support (don’t use the links provided). If it doesn’t appear, it’s an imposter; if it does, it’s an identity thief.
#4 Urgent CTAs after the warning
“You have 48h to complete this action, or we will permanently close the account.”
Right after the message, they want you to call a phone number, visit a website, or click a link. Especially with fake identity theft warnings, they’ll make you enter your credentials on a phishing website.
Amazon gives enough time to make sure users take action — about one to four weeks. If you don’t know what to do, you can ask for guidance on support.
Compare that with the suspicious, urgent call-to-action. Don’t fall for it; if you have an account, Amazon shouldn’t ask for information because they already have it.
#5 Unusual formatting
After receiving dozens of emails, you should already have a clear idea about Amazon’s formatting. If not, you can compare it with this image. Also, check these:
Types Of Amazon Scams
Amazon can be a great place to find amazing deals. But when a listing looks too good to be true, there’s a reason behind it: money!
Losing money on sales can be a growth strategy. Lower prices and giveaways lead to more sales and ranking, which let you up prices later.
Deep discounts also act as a hook to attract people to a fraudulent listing. Because they like the deal so much, the naïve will ignore the red flags and trust the seller.
But Amazon scammers aren’t interested in a couple of bucks of profit. Imposters, for example, can wipe all your savings by stealing your accounts, especially as a seller.
Here are eight Amazon scams that cost you more than what you spent.
#1 Fake Amazon Websites
These days, personal accounts have more value than wallets, although it depends on who you steal. Identity thieves can use someone else’s funds and commit crimes without consequences.
To get to you, they disguise in different ways:
- SMS. “Your order arrives tomorrow. If you don’t click here, your order will cancel, and the item returns to the seller.”
- Reward programs. “Visit this custom link to qualify for our program. Get free products to review plus $100 commission!”
- Unexpected prize. “Your account qualifies for a massive refund. Click here to claim your $368.82.”
Then, you’ll appear on a phishing site that looks just like the official page. Since the scammer owns the website, they can manipulate it and show you anything they want you to see (and get your bank information):
- Your account shows security issues, so you need to update all your credentials.
- When browsing on this fake Amazon, you find +$100 items selling for under $20 for a limited time.
- You find fraudulent banners. “Your $1000 gift card is waiting for you.”
Once you’re confused, you may look for the Help tab to contact Customer Support. Since you’re in a fake site, contact data is neither official. Instead, you message the imposter, which leads to email/phone scams.
#2 Phishing/Imposter Scams
Phishing scammers can benefit from tiny data breaches and progressively unlock all your accounts. Imagine someone breaks into your email, and now they know every service you have signed up: your stores, banks, even friends.
They can send a second phishing attack impersonating any contact they found on your list. Because the message is so specific, you fall for the confidence trick.
Whether you browse on the platform or not, Amazon sends you emails about updates and service news. After reading dozens of emails, it’s easy to look at a scam email as “just another Amazon message.” But here’s what makes them different:
- They urge you to take action on your account using a customized link within 24h, or the whole Amazon closes for you. Amazon only sends custom links for verification steps you requested previously. More often, you find lists of steps to follow in your account.
- 99% are security-related. “We will permanently close the account.” It urges sellers to revise their credentials to avoid shutting down their businesses.
- They show different links when you hover the mouse over them, especially shortened URLs.
People often use a trusted device to enter Amazon, meaning they save login details. If a message redirects you to “Amazon” and you aren’t signed in, you’re in a phishing site. They often include pop-up verification windows, so you can’t use any other feature.
Fraudulent scam calls also have your private information as the goal. But because your attention is on the phone, it’s easy to get rushed and miss the warning signs.
- An Amazon employee warns an identity thief has got into your account. He offers a virtual tour to help you reset your account security and “protect.” You might need to install a (malware) program at some point.
- In a robocall, you enter a star code and activate call forwarding. Now, whenever the con men use the phone, you will pay for the calls as if they were yours.
- You look for Amazon contact info online, and someone shares it on social media or a page outside of Amazon.
- You call an “agent” to talk about some Amazon problem, which promises to follow up the case on email after further investigation (phishing).
- You get a robocall about Amazon Prime. Press a number to renew/cancel the subscription. Instead, it may lead to mystery monthly charges.
- Support calls you to confirm an order/refund, but Amazon never does that.
Your opinion helps brands create better products. Amazon rewards customers for sharing ideas that they otherwise wouldn’t know about their audience. Even new sellers pay buyers to leave them reviews, although it’s not 100% accepted on the conditions. Also, Amazon will yearly invite Prime customers to join their market research groups.
People who offer for surveys and feedback receive some compensation.
- You can only do the same survey once.
- You get paid $10-$50 for filling forms.
- Qualifying depends on buyer interests and demographics.
- You complete the process via Amazon, no secondary websites, no software needed.
Phishing scammers will create ads and mass emails to promote $100+ surveys with no skills and fast approval. They don’t exist and only serve to steal your private data. For example, you’ll need to pay a registration after filling the form.
#5 Amazon Refund Scams/ A-to-Z Guarantee
According to the CEO, Amazon’s vision stands for customer obsession.
“Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”
Despite how compelling it may sound, there’s no commitment without trade-offs. Their vision involves an unbalanced system favoring the customer, instead of treating both as equal.
For the most immoral fraudsters, Amazon’s vision means “The customer is always right.” So even if you do something wrong as a customer, you generally win.
You may already see where this is going. Although there’s nothing wrong with, say, the A-to-Z guarantee, it may lead to fraud if Amazon lacks security controls. When someone returns, how do you know the product is in the box, they haven’t switched it, or they collected it before the refund? They don’t, and if you don’t prevent it as a seller, you’ll lose the sale every time.
Fortunately, Amazon bans accounts based on their behavior. But they can still open new ones. Even if they were banned forever, the damage is already there: switched products, misleading reviews, sabotaged listings.
If you happen to agree with Amazon’s philosophy, however, the platform may bring you the best business opportunities. Imagine owning an e-com brand where you don’t need to touch a single product: Amazon does it for you. Many entrepreneurs are already living the Passive Income dream because of FBA.
Now, letting them do everything also means giving away control, which can be problematic. It’s okay to sell on Amazon, just not only on their platform; aim for multiple income streams.
FBA-only sellers must feel terrified. Anytime, Amazon can close their accounts forever— even by mistake— losing their business overnight. Yet, we haven’t presented you the scammers who will watch you through the whole process, since you open an account until long after your product launch.
But FBA fraud also affects you as a buyer. Have you ever bought from a great listing only to get a product different(worse) than advertised? Before you leave a one-star review, mind that the seller may not be who caused it. Maybe:
- Someone bought before, switched the product and returned it. You received it by coincidence.
- The product IS as advertised, but someone has sabotaged the listing to make it show misleading features.
- The product has mediocre quality because you bought from a hijacker, not the real seller!
You see, sellers have little to do with purchase problems. The greatest danger for a customer is either an Amazon imposter or an unethical customer.
Talking of imposters, guess what’s their favorite payment method: gift cards. With enough trickery, you could turn these vouchers into real money and use it outside of Amazon. Plus, transactions are untraceable and non-refundable: as useful as cash.
When was the last time a business asked for payment in Amazon gift cards? If they did, how did your experience end up? Probably not well: that’s because legit services use conventional options: credit card, PayPal, maybe escrow.
Aside from payment methods, gift cards serve for prizes (gifts), which is their connotation. Thus, Amazon imposters will come offering $100s worth in gift cards, but you need to register to claim your prize.
They may ask for login details or credit card number, which is incoherent (doesn’t Amazon have your details already?). Anyway, you follow the steps, and nothing happens! While you wait 10+ business days to process your $1000 card, scammers use your stolen account for purchases.
What better way to scam than promising someone money? And the better the deal is, the more fools you can attract. That’s the principle of no-skill Amazon jobs paying +$6K/mo checks.
More often than not, the job offer turns into an endless race against other applicants. You never get out of the testing stage, you spend hours on trial projects, and then waste hundreds on work-from-home quits before they reject you.
There’s a meaner scheme which reaches the grey area of fraud: drop-servicing. Imagine a middleman between the employer and you (you believe the broker is the employer). The broker offers the job, you send the application, and they use your data to apply for the job. Once they get the position, you deliver them the work. They pay you in fake checks while collecting the real salary. You work, they get paid.
You may have heard of Amazon Jobs via email, SMS, phone calls, or social media, or ads. When it comes to imposter scams, there’s no one way to reach out: all for a job that may not exist.
Use the Amazon.com/jobs address for official results.
Preventing The Scams
Who may have thought? Most buyers believed sellers wanted to scam them, and sellers thought the opposite. But in the end, both sellers and buyers want fair deals: imposters are the risk.
- Whenever you doubt, choose trusted contact information.
Nobody knows the most about imposters than Amazon itself. Before it’s too late, share the case with customer support to see whether they recognize the message. If they don’t, you’ve just saved yourself from imposter fraud.
- Do not use contact info directly provided via links and messages.
- Avoid contact data shared outside of Amazon.
- Reject unusual payment methods
Just because it’s Amazon, that doesn’t discredit basic financial practices. If a payment method is unsafe, you shouldn’t use it regardless of who’s asking you. Avoid using money orders, wire transfers, bitcoin, or gift cards.
These methods make transactions permanent and untraceable: a scammer’s favorite.
- Reject unusual instructions, even from employees
One may think that because Amazon rules its platform, we should trust all instructions. Knowing most cons come from imposters, we can no longer think that way.
Imposters want you to bite on their fake links and get your information, and they make up excuses to make sure you do. However:
- Amazon never asks you for the same information twice.
- Amazon doesn’t share links. Instead, they share a guide on where to navigate in your account menu.
In essence, phishing messages involve no threat as long as you only read them. Check for the warnings by visiting Amazon directly and delete your messages.
- If you got a scam warning, slow down
As people become more aware, scammers now try to trick customers with fake fraud alerts. They urge you to update sensitive information to protect against the threat only to send you to a phishing site.
The next time you get that warning, stop to think: is it true? If your account looks fine, assume it’s a false alarm.