There’s An Amazon Scam Sweeping Through Oklahoma
You would think that in 2022 we would be deaf to telephone scams, but as the criminals are always looking for new ways to take advantage of you, the game always evolves into a new inning of play.
We're all familiar with the vehicle extended warrantee and have at least heard stories about the "we have a warrant for your arrest unless you pay this fine in gift cards..." type of scams, but now Oklahomans are being robo-dialed with a recorded message about suspicious activity on their Amazon account. It's being executed in a manner that's almost believable.
When I received a call this morning from a number I don't recognize, like (I assume) most people, I chose to ignore it. Who could be calling me from Massachusetts? I don't know anybody that lives there, the phone goes back in my pocket... Almost immediately, my phone starts ringing again from the same number. I start to think "Do I know someone in Massachusetts?
Begrudgingly and because there's always some small chance a loved one has ended up in Bean-Town and might need help, I answered.
By the way, if you answer in a different language than English, most recorded scam callers won't even bother trying. My go-to is a quick "Hola?" and if there's silence, a follow-up "Quien es?" 50% of the time it works 100% of the time.
Regardless of the imposed language barrier, the recording then proceeded to tell me about a suspicious order on my Amazon account, that the order had been frozen, and that I would need to confirm or deny the purchase. As I really have nothing better to do, sometimes I'll go ahead and participate just to see how long I can make a scammer linger on the phone.
Red Flag: When has Amazon ever called you?
I don't know about you, but my credit card company does this quite a bit, especially when I travel. In fact, if I don't let my bank know ahead of time that I'll be traveling, my debit card will be shut off by the time I try to make a second purchase in my hometown. It's super annoying, but I respect the lengths to which they go to protect my money. Perhaps Amazon is proactively doing the same?
The official-sounding recording over the phone then started to detail what the order consisted of, a $1299 iPhone 11 Pro... and then came the order number of which I'm supposed to either confirm or deny... Order # AA8120...... I forgot the rest.
Red Flag: That's a suspect order number.
If it wasn't common knowledge to you, all Amazon orders start with numbers. At least, every order I've made over the last twelve years has started with a three-digit number.
With a quick toot of breath out of my one working nostril, I half-heartedly chuckled thinking about how much fun this was going to be.
"Press 1 to speak with a representative."
"Thank you for calling the Amazon fraud department, my name is Charles. May I please have your name on your Amazon account?" said the person on the other end. I offered my go-to fake name, the most common name in the United States.
"Thank you Mr. Smith, for security purposes can you give me your email address and password to confirm your identity today?"
I gave him a fake email address, "John-Smith-at-Gmail-dot-com," and insisted I didn't remember my password, that it was automatically saved in my phone app.
"That is no problem Mr. Smith, I'll go ahead and send you a password recovery email to get this verification process started."
I mentioned that I couldn't see the suspected order in my app, to which he replied "That's because it's been flagged, you'll need to follow the link I sent. Have you received it yet?"
Over the next few minutes, as the polite small talk dwindled to an ever-increasing sense of frustration in "Charles" demeanor, I decided to change my story and said "Are you sure you got my email correct? John-dot-Smith-at-Gmail-dot-com?"
"I didn't hear the period in the address, let me resend this real quick to get this security measure started."
Once again Charles was happy and confident I was about to become the mark of whatever scam they were trying to pull at that moment... but again, "I'm sorry Charles, I haven't received your email yet."
Frustrated at this point, some twelve minutes into what is probably usually a sixty-second conversation, I'm offered an 800 number to call when I finally do get the email and promptly hung up on.
After a little searching, my experience isn't unlike others you'll find out there. It's not exactly clear how the scam works once they've gotten into your Amazon account, but needless to say it'll probably cost you the appropriate Stupidity Tax.
To avoid becoming an unwitting victim of any scam, here is what the Federal Trade Commission recommends, but ultimately if you never offer your information to anyone that calls you, you'll be pretty well protected.