Many people are paying for items online, and it's becoming more common to even make large payments for items like cars and vacations. Unfortunately, there are phishing scams out there that make you think you're paying through services like Amazon Payments or PayPal, but you're really sending your money to a fake site and are unlikely to ever see that money again. Here's how I almost got taken by an Amazon Payments scam.
Shopping for a car on Kijiji
A few years ago we were on the hunt for a used car since the transmission blew up on one of our cars. We came across a 2010 Chevrolet Traverse LT for only $11,000. Based on some limited research, this was clearly an excellent deal because most 2010 Traverse’s were going for $18,000 to $25,000 at the time. As much as I was intrigued, my spider senses went up but I still sent an email to inquire about more information anyway.
I got a reply from a Mr. William Garcia:
This vehicle has absolutely no mechanical problem, the exterior has no scratches, rust or dents and the interior is like new, no accidents.
The price includes shipping and handling . I am selling it because I've relocated in Europe and it is too expensive to import it here. It is still in Canada at a warehouse in Whitehorse YT ready to be delivered to its buyer with all the documents.
Because I am not able to close the deal myself, I want to use a third party to handle the sale. This way we are both protected.
Let me know if you're interested and if you have questions.
After asking a few more questions, here’s the next email I got:
The mileage is correct. Let me explain how everything works:
I want to use as a third party Amazon Payments (visit their website Amazon Payments). You will have to make the payment to Amazon Payments. The shipping will be started in 24 hours after your payment is confirmed. The vehicle will be delivered in 3 or 4 days. From the moment it arrives at your door, you will have 5 days to test and inspect it. If it doesn't match my description or if you find anything wrong with it, Amazon Payments will refund your money is 3 working days and I will be in charge of the return shipping fee. They will hold the money until you confirm that the vehicle is as expected.
This way we are both protected. I am sure that you have the funds to buy it and you can verify that the vehicle is as advertised knowing that a 3rd party has the payment secured.
In order to start the transaction, please go on Amazon Payments and register, once you do that,
Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details.
When I clicked on the link, here’s a screen shot of the site:
Signs of an Amazon Payments phishing scam
The site above looks pretty legitimate but the url was a little strange:
Nowhere in the URL does it say amazon.com. I decided to play along and put in some information. Here’s the email invoice I got:
Looks pretty legitimate but here’s some concerns:
If you look at the email address of the sender, it does not come from Amazon.com
Also if you look at the screen shot below, the banking information is what really should be a concern:
I asked William who Jose Orejon Perez was and he relied he was the person chosen by Amazon to supervise the transaction. I then googled “Amazon Payment Scam” and found this scam
I found stuff dating back to 2005. It's been a while since I have shopped for a car.
I went back to Kijiji to get a screenshot of the ad but they had taken it down already.
The internet can be very powerful but it can also be a scary place. Predators like these have taken advantage of people for a long time and will continue to do so. Here are some of the warning signs:
Watch for fake Amazon Payments sites
Over at Amazon, they have posted some good information on spotting scammers.
Genuine Amazon Payments websites are always hosted on one of the following domains:
Sometimes the link included in spoofed e-mails looks like a genuine Amazon Payments address. You can check where it actually points to by hovering your mouse over the link–the actual website where it points to will be shown in the status bar at the bottom of your browser window or as a pop-up.
We never use a web address hosted on a domain other than the ones listed above. For instance, variant domains such as “http://security-payments-amazon.com/. . .” or an IP address (string of numbers) followed by directories such as “http://123.456.789.123/payments.amazon.com/. . .” are not valid Amazon Payments websites.
Here are a few of the known fake amazon payments sites. There will certainly be others, but this will give you an idea of what to watch out for:
It’s scary how good some of these scam artists are. I guess my guard came up early because of the old saying “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Be careful; be smart; and be skeptical!
If this post helped save you from being scammed, please share it on social media to help spread the word!