Monday, February 8, 2021

Beware of the New "Amazon" Scam Calls (And How I Handled One ;)

I just got one, but I played along to get as much information as I could, to give the real Amazon, to help with investigation ;)

First of all, I never answer calls I don't recognize, and Apple now helps us iPhone users out with this by labeling them "Spam Risk." 

However, I sometimes answer calls from a local area code that don't have this label, if they say "Lexington" and have a prefix number from a part of town I recognize, because sometimes my doctor or dentist or our vets call us from other phones.

So I answered this one because it had both a local area code and city prefix.

The conversation between myself, and a heavy Middle-Eastern-accented man, went like this ...

First, an automated message with a female voice said it was Amazon calling and there had been suspicious activity on my account and to press 1 for more information. 

I pressed 1, and then ...

Man: "Hello, my name is Pete, and I'm calling from Amazon Customer Service.  We've noted suspicious activity on your Amazon account.  Did you make a purchase of $492 on your Amazon account?"


Me (feigning belief):  "Oh, no - really?  No, I didn't.  How did this happen?"      


*wink at my husband, to let him know everything was okay, who'd paused work to pay attention to this call, as I had it on speaker*


Man:  "This means someone has been using your Amazon account, unauthorized.  Do you know anyone in Mexico?


Me:  "Oh?  Mexico, you say?  No.   I didn't receive a written email or alert on my Amazon account that this happened, though."


Man: "No, listen to me! We need to go check, right now, who is using your devices and your Amazon account in Mexico without your consent! Go to, right now!"


Me"Oh, it's that serious? Okay.   But instead of going, I just Googled it - isn't that a site to allow you remote access to my computer, right?"


Man:  "Yes, we here at Amazon are trying to protect you from unauthorized access to your devices and Amazon account."


Me:  "Gee, okay, thank you for ... that.  And you say you're a customer service rep and not a tech?  And what is your full name again and employee ID number again?"


Man:  "Ma'am, I told you - my name is Pete and I'm with Amazon."


Me:  "Well, can you send me an email verifying everything you just said, from the official Amazon encrypted email server?


Man:  "Ma'am, I'm with Amazon."


Me:  "Well, now ... that's interesting ... because you say you're from Amazon, but you called me using a Kentucky area code and a Lexington prefix phone number." 

"We DO have a big Amazon distribution center here in Lexington, but we do NOT have an Amazon customer-service call center.  Also, Amazon would typically alert your account on their website itself, or via its official encrypted email, if there's suspicious activity."


Man:  "I am calling from Washington, D.C., ma'am."


Me:  "Buzzz, wrong again.  Amazon's headquarters are based in Seattle, and the press release that Jeff Bezos was stepping down, and that Amazon's new HQ would be moving to the Helix Tower, in Arlington, VA, was only a week ago.  I highly I doubt they've moved move it all that quickly." 

"Even if they had, that wouldn't explain why you used a Lexington area code and phone number instead of a D.C. area code and number, now, would it?:)" 


Man (who was incredibly still on the phone):  "Ma'am, we need to get these people off your computer, so if you would just ..."


Me:  "Okay, look, since you're unbelievably still on here ... I think it's pretty clear that we're both aware that you're running a scam to gain access to devices, to get passwords and banking information, which I'm going to report to Amazon as soon as I'm off the phone." 

"Additionally, may I just say that you should be ashamed of yourself, for scamming people, especially during COVID, as well as trying to blame Mexicans for your crime!"


... and I hung up lol.

My husband was laughing his ass off. 

Not bad, for the formerly very-naive-for-far-too-long girl, who grew up in a whacky evangelical household, who can now smell BS before most people, eh?  ;)

Then, of course, I reported all of this to Amazon, who confirmed that there was no such suspicious activity on my account (from Mexico or anywhere else), and the phone number they used did not belong to Amazon, and took all of the info I obtained.

They also confirmed, as I suspected, that Amazon would never call you, unless you first called them and asked for a callback; and further, would alert your Amazon account on Amazon's website about suspicious activity, as a first step.

Additionally, unless it's an email from an official encrypted server, never EVER follow or go to any link someone tells you to - at least Google the site that they tell you to go to, first, to see if it's legit/what it's about - the one they were trying to send me to would give remote access to them to my laptop ;)

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