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We Conducted An Undercover Investigation On Amazon Job Scams- Here Is What Happened


4/15/2022

Amazon Scams Running Rampant - Targeting Our Community

I spent almost $1,000.00 to bring you these results. Here is what happens with Amazon Scammers.


The Calls:

Even during the time I am writing this, my phone rang and the caller ID shows a local cellular phone number, but that was not anyone locally on the other end of the phone. I cheerfully answered to hear a recording " This is Amazon to discuss an unauthorized purchase for a MacBook on your Amazon account" They asked me to verify the email for my Amazon account, but I did not comply. While some departments at Amazon will make outbound calls to customers, Amazon will never ask you to disclose or verify sensitive personal information or offer you a refund you do not expect.

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Rick dives in undercover to investigate- do not try this at home.

If you have seen the post on Facebook about jobs with Amazon but did not know if they were real, I bought a cheap disposable computer, set up a separate email address, bought a prepaid throw-away phone, and even bought a separate prepaid reloadable debit card to go weed out who is real and who is fake. This is what I discovered. The work from home scam they seem to push so hard on Facebook when you click that link, you put in a bit of personal information. It should be remembered that I bought a separate laptop computer for this investigation, I did not hook it up to my Wifi either, I ran it through tethering the internet connection between it and the disposable phone I bought for this investigation, and I did this test away from my home and office and away from any other Wifi connections, this is dangerous so don't try it at home. I set up a fake Facebook account and named myself Jon Doe of Hawkins, Indiana. I went and signed up as instructed. I used all zeros for the social security number and used the address of 123 Main Road, Anytown USA 12345 and it went through, I checked my newly found email on my burner phone (with its separate disposable email address) and saw an email that said I was hired to start posting and selling for Amazon. The email came from another Gmail address, that claimed to be the human resources director. The email instructed me to go purchase a gift card known as a "green dot" in the amount of $495.00 and to reply to the email with the code from the back of the card. In the spirit of investigating, I went to the nearest green dot retailer and bought the card,(paid cash), and gave it to the "HR director." This money was for me to have my very own amazon landing page for reposting purposes. The next email said they would need to onboard me for payout, and I would need to send my ID and a deposit slip to my bank. I could not do much for that and was not finished with my investigation, so I replied to the email and told the scammer I lost my ID in a fishing accident and gave him a deposit slip for the prepaid debit card I bought from the store and did not set up. I was mindful to take a sharpie and blacken out the numbers that were on that slip. (there was a direct deposit form with the information in the package of the prepaid debit card.) They said that as long as I gave them the deposit slip that it was OK. The next email came three minutes later and said their processing department required them to get a picture of the front and back of the card. I was told I would need to send this using the same phone number associated with my account. ( I used the burner phone.} I never heard back from them, but they did in fact claim the green dot card. I discovered that when I called the number to check its balance.


$200.00 on the disposable computer, $90 for the throw-away phone, $60.00 to activate it, and have one month's worth of full service including its own hot spot. $35 dollars on the reloadable debit card, which included my starting balance of around $28 and almost $500.00 on one of those green dot reload packs. At the end of the investigation, I destroyed these items because I had no clue if they attempted to steal anything else like the I.P. address to the computer, or the phone, and I shredded the debit card without activating it. I deleted the associated accounts to it too (Facebook and Gmail account, etc)

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So, what was the scam?


They tell you that you must buy an affiliate site for them to track the payout of commissions of the trinkets you promote with that affiliate site. They say they need the green dot card or gift card to pay them to make that for you. They never build anything and they steal the money. When I did a background search on the email address used it pulled up no information, and the phone number I was to text the front and back of the burner debit card prop I used was also not accepting calls. I attempted to text the number I sent the picture to, but the text message errored out and said it could no longer receive text messages. We know it was not the burner phone because I called another phone and texted another phone with it and everything worked as expected. The scammer had closed the accounts of every contact point I had for them, and when I went back to the post I found it in the post was also gone, and so was the party that posted it. I researched the link I used, was originally sent to me in a shortened link, watch what you click, if they use shortened links, you can always find the real source of a link by right-clicking the link and inspecting the link (desktop). It took several hours for me to dig into this using the burner computer, I did not want to associate myself with this in any way shape, or form, and discovered they set these copy-cat sites up using free website makers like "sites. google" They appear to be setting these up using free Gmail accounts.


I spent this so you don't lose yours...


I did not file a police report on the $495.00 as I expected to lose it for the purpose of this story, I did that so you will never have to wonder what if it is real. The debit card was never activated and was not in anyone's name, you can buy these at any Walmart or dollar store in town.

  • If you see something that intrigues you on social media, you can always open a new tab and go to the company directly. You should always do this if the party is posting it is someone you do not know.

  • Amazon will never ask you to disclose your information over the phone, they simply do not do it. If you are getting calls like this, you should report them, go directly to your Amazon account, and hit the help tab. click security and privacy and follow the promotes on their website.

  • You should enable 2-step verification to log into your Amazon Account.

  • Legitimate Amazon websites have a dot before "amazon.com" such as http://"something".amazon.com. For example, Amazon Pay website is https://pay.amazon.com/.

  • Don't provide any gift card details (such as the claim code) to someone you don't know and trust.

  • If you still open a link and it tells you to sign in, close that link immediately, even if the link is asking you to verify your email or google account NEVER use those from a source you do not know or trust.

Scammers use fake caller ID information to trick you into thinking that they're someone who can be trusted. The practice is called "caller ID spoofing", and scammers can fake anyone's phone number. You may receive an unsolicited call from someone stating they're a member of Amazon Customer Service. They may say that your account is frozen and you must purchase Amazon.com or other branded gift cards and provide the claim codes over the phone to remove the freeze on your account. They might also ask for your Amazon password, full credit card ID, or bank account number. Amazon never calls you to ask you to purchase gift cards to unlock your account. Amazon never asks you to provide sensitive personal information like your social security number, tax ID, bank account number, credit card information, or Amazon account-related information, e.g., your password.


If you receive an email or text saying that you've been gifted an Amazon.com Gift Card, verify that it's from Amazon. Customers can send gift cards by text message. A text message gift card from Amazon will be from this number: 455-72.

Here is an example of how a text message gift card from Amazon will appear:

From: Jane Doe - Happy Birthday to you! - https://www.amazon.com/g/EXAMPLECLAIMCODE.

It never hurts to contact the person that it claimed sent it to you and thank them and verify they did send it.

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In closing

It is a game of cat-and-mouse between law enforcement and the developer community versus the Amazon scammers. A good rule to follow is to hang up if you get a phone call like this, and directly go to your Amazon account on your trusted device. If you get an email or a text message from Amazon, if it is real, you will find the same information in your Amazon account, I cannot express this loud or clear enough, do not use their form of communication to click through to solve the problem. These scammers are getting better every day and developers are combatting security threats every day, Facebook always recommends reporting any suspicious post, and in the last 24-hours I have personally seen and reported about 20 posts on Facebook today,


Please, use caution and be safe. If you see a suspicious post or link, do not click it. If this story stops someone from getting bamboozled then it was worth every dime I spent investigating it. I never called the pre-paid debit card company to see if they also stole the $28 in addition to the $495 they got. I suspect they did not because I never activated the card as I would have been made to give my real information, it was only used as a prop. I checked that terms of use and it clearly stated the temporary card is useless if not activated and registered online, I never did that. (The permanent card is sent in the mail after you register them according to the terms of service.) Some might question why I destroyed the computer, and the phone I used in this over just reselling it, is because when I clicked the link if any I.P. information would have been received by the scammer, whoever would have got that computer next could have been at risk. I could not guarantee they would not have been, so it was not worth that risk. I was not going to return the items to the store either, the only suitable option I saw was to dispose of them. I also suspect that the scammers were not in the United States in the first place, but cannot prove it, I was not able to figure out where the green dot was claimed.


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You can also report any suspicious phone calls or text messages to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

To report a phone call or text message visit ftc.gov/complaint and follow the onscreen assistant.


 

Do you have a news tip or something you would like us to look into? You can submit it online on our NEWS TIPS page https://www.madisoncountynewsnetwork.com/submit-a-news-tip


 

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