An Amazon logo in the background next to someone getting a scam call.

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Scammers impersonating Amazon stole $27 million from victims in a year

Over roughly a year, one-third of impersonation reports to the FTC were about Amazon.

 

Andrew Wyrich

Tech

Published Oct 21, 2021   Updated Oct 22, 2021, 8:46 am CDT

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said scammers posing as people from Amazon stole $27 million from people over a roughly one-year period.

The agency said in a recent blog post that from July 2020 to June 2021, Amazon impersonators made up one in three reports to them about scammers impersonating businesses. During that one-year period, around 96,000 people reported being targeted and nearly 6,000 people said they lost money. Around 273,000 people reported business impersonators to the FTC during that time frame.

Overall, the losses for Amazon-specific impersonators were more than $27 million, with the median loss being around $1,000.

The 96,000 reports about Amazon impersonators dwarfed other companies. The second most frequently impersonated company by scammers was Apple, with 16,000 reports made to the FTC.

The FTC said the most common scam was people getting an unexpected message from someone claiming to be from Amazon about an unauthorized purchase or suspicious activity. If someone called the number back, a scammer would trick a person into allowing them remote access to their computer and convincing them that too much money had been refunded and needed to be returned.

Other scams involved having people purchasing and sending pictures of the numbers on the back of gift cards, calling them “blocking codes” or “security codes” that could block “hackers” who say they’ve taken over the Amazon account. But really they just take the gift card money. Another scam involved being sent text messages that tell customers they’ve won a raffle from Amazon and need to input their credit card information for shipping.

The FTC said the scams seem to be impacting older adults more than others. Over the last year, people who were 60 years old or older were four times more likely to report an Amazon impersonator to the agency, and the median loss for older people was $1,500, compared to just $814 for people who were younger than 60.


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*First Published: Oct 21, 2021, 10:16 am CDT