InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


Amazon impersonators using company's popularity to cheat consumers

12 Scams of Christmas
amazon impersonator.png
Posted at 6:00 AM, Dec 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-08 15:26:25-05

BALTIMORE — Amazon impersonators are targeting shoppers this holiday season.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, one in three business impersonators pretend to be with Amazon. And about 96,000 people reported losing more than $27 million to scammers from July 2020 through June 2021.

“It was $18,000 with gift cards,” said Angie Barnett, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving greater Maryland.

The Maryland consumer reported losing that sum to an Amazon impostor in November.

“They give many different responses as to why your Amazon account has been compromised and why you need to pay them money,” Barnett said.

In one variation of the scam, consumer receive a notification that their account’s been hacked and the only way to protect it is to buy gift cards and share the number and pin on the back.

Or customers may get an email or text about an unauthorized purchase on their account. The phone number connects them to a phony Amazon customer service representative who claims to have issued a refund but sent more than promised.

“So what they want you to do is send them money to cover the expenses they allege you owe,” said Barnett.

They trick consumers into giving them remote access to their phone or computer, have the victim log into their banking app then initiate transfers without the account holder’s permission.

“The median loss is about $1,000 and it most often occurs with seniors,” Barnett added.

There are texts about fake raffles asking for credit card information to pay for “shipping.” Or customers in need of assistance google Amazon customer service and accidentally call the wrong number.

“They will actually answer the phone and say, ‘Amazon,’ and it’s not their customer service,” said Barnett.

According to FTC data, Apple is the second most frequently reported company. Apple impersonators reportedly tell people their iCloud account has been compromised or that they’ve been chosen to get a free iPad.

Below are additional tips from the FTC on how to avoid common tricks used by business impersonators:

  • Never call phone numbers given in unexpected calls, texts, emails, or messages on social media. And don’t click any links. Those are scams.
  • If you’re worried, check it out. Go directly to the company’s website to find out how to reach them. Don’t trust the phone numbers or links that come up in search results.
  • Never give anyone remote access to your devices unless you contacted the company first (using its real number). If someone tells you to give remote access to get a refund, it’s a scam.
  • Never pay by gift card. Nobody legit will ever require you to. And never send pictures of gift cards. If someone tells you they need the numbers on the back of a gift card, it’s a scam.
  • Talk about it. If you’re getting these messages, so are people you know. Help them avoid the scam by sharing what you know.