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Top Story: Amazon New Year's phishing scams spreading now

Top Story: Amazon New Year's phishing scams spreading now
© Paulus Rusyanto | Dreamstime.com

There seems to be a never-ending supply of cybercriminals out there. The number of data breaches and ransomware attacks were simply out of control in 2016.

Phishing scams are also on the rise. In fact, there is a new devious one impacting buyers on Amazon.

Scammers are setting up fraudulent sellers' accounts in the Amazon Marketplace to scam victims out of money. They are putting up high-tech items for sale at unbelievably low prices, and then not delivering the products after they've been paid for.

How the scam works

What's happening is, the criminal lists a product at such a low price it's irresistible to some. Once a buyer attempts to purchase the item, they get an error message saying something went wrong with the order.

The customer is then given an email address to contact for further instructions. When the customer sends the email asking for help, they are given instructions to pay for the item on another site, outside of Amazon's system. This is basically an elaborate phishing scam.

If the customer actually uses the outside system to make a payment, they never receive the item. To make matters worse, by not paying for the item through Amazon, the customer forfeits any help from Amazon to resolve the issue.

Sellers are prohibited from requesting payment outside of Amazon's system, so no legitimate seller would request this. This is something you should be aware of for all of your future purchases. Never leave Amazon to go to another site for payment. Bad idea!

Researchers with the website Comparitech looked into this scam and actually made contact with one of the fraudulent sellers. They then followed up with Amazon.

Buying from the Amazon Marketplace

Comparitech reached out to Amazon.co.uk to address the issue of fraudulent sellers. Here is the statement Amazon replied with:

"Amazon.co.uk Marketplace is safe, secure and guaranteed. Payment within the Amazon site is the only authorized and recognized form of payment for items sold by Sellers on Amazon. Every customer who orders on Amazon is covered by our A-to-Z guarantee; however items paid for outside of the Amazon.co.uk Marketplace aren't eligible for protection.

"We advise customers never to pay for a Marketplace item outside of the Amazon.co.uk site and for the security of our customers, all communication for Marketplace items between the Seller and buyer should be conducted solely through the Amazon site. If a customer is contacted by a Seller requesting payment via another method, we ask that they report it to us.

"Should an unauthorized person have gained access to a Seller's account as a result of receiving account information outside of Amazon, we'll take appropriate measures immediately to protect the customer and seller."

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