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Amazon Payments scam

This is a new one to me and I think it’s worth a separate post just because of how elaborate it is.

There is a post here on Fightthescams about a vehicle on Craigslist Montreal. The message from the “seller” included a link to a site that was supposedly for Amazon Payments. I just checked out that link and was amazed at what was included there – amazed and disgusted actually (living up to my name here) at the trouble these scammers went to. The page at that URL is full of logos for legitimate services like Craigslist, eBay, AutoTrader, Cars.com – and of course it has the Amazon Payments logo right at the top. Also near the top are links to other supposed pages on this “site” – pages explaining how it works, how to pay, etc. It all looks very legitimate. But it isn’t.

The first thing I noticed about the URL included in the original scam message is that it isn’t related to Amazon.com at all – instead, it begins with sites.google.com, which I understand is a free site Google offers to its account holders (which I found out by going to the main page). The links at the top, which say things like “How It Works,” “Payments,” and “General Terms,” are other sites.google pages, probably from other Google accounts.

A lot of people don’t even notice the URL, though. That’s fine, but – the text on that “home page” talks about buying and selling domain names. What does that have to do with a vehicle sale?

I opened each link in a separate tab and checked out those pages. Here’s what’s on the “How It Works” page (italics are mine):

How it Works

1. Buyer and Seller Agree to Terms

  • Both parties agree to terms, which includes a description of the vehicle, sale price and number of days for the Buyers inspection.

3. Seller Ships Merchandise

  • Amazon Payments verifies that the Buyer receives the shipment.
  • The inspection period will begins when the vehicle is delivered.

5. Amazon Payments Pays the Seller

  • Amazon Payments pays the Seller after all conditions of the transaction are met

2. Buyer Pays Amazon Payments

  • When payment is received, it will be verified and secured into a non-interest bearing trust account until the Buyer inspects the vehicle.

4. Buyer Accepts the Merchandise

  • The Buyer has a 5 days for an inspection and the option to accept or reject the merchandise. For more information, read our General Terms and Conditions Page.

This was a straight copy-and-paste: I didn’t change anything. Notice how the steps are out of order? Would a huge company like Amazon put up a page like that? It sure doesn’t look professional to me.

Even if you read them in order, anyone who’s received a scam email claiming to use eBay, Google Checkout, or AutoTrader will recognize this process. It’s the same nonsense used for those scams.

But I was especially interested in the “Payments” page. Here’s another copy-and-paste (italics and color highlighting are mine):

Credit Card

We currently accept American Express, Master Card, Amazon Payments. Credit card payments are protected via SSL to encrypt your information when you send it to us.

Please note that for transactions higher than $5,000, credit card is not acceptable, you must transfer the money by bank wire from your account to Amazon Payments account.

Check or Money Order

Money orders and check payments are only accepted when drawn on a US bank, have a limit of $2,000, and are subject to a 10 days bank hold.

We do not accept checks drawn on a credit card.

So – if you’re paying more than $2,000 you can’t use a check or money order and if you’re paying more than $5,000 you have to pay by wire transfer. I noticed that the car in the original Craigslist ad (which is still up) is selling for $13,000. Which means the only way to pay for it is with a wire transfer.

But what if you’re buying a vehicle that’s only $1,800? According to these rules you could send a check or money order for that. But – money orders and checks have to be from a bank in the US. And this ad is on Craigslist Montreal – in Canada. Another reason to use wire transfer.

None of which goes with the way I would think Amazon operates. It’s a big online company which sells around the world. Surely it accepts credit card payments – for any amount.

On the “Contact Us” page there are two email addresses. I tried pulling up the main site associated with those addresses. My browser couldn’t find that URL, either with or without “www” at the beginning. But according to whois.com it is registered to someone with an ordinary street address and apartment # in a US city.

Bottom line – these pages are all forgeries. At first glance they look really good. But when you look a little closer the discrepancies become obvious. The weird URLs, the limited payment options, the editing issues (steps 1-3-5-2-4?) – they’re all red flags.

It didn’t seem like a good idea to include the actual URLs being used in this scam; besides, I’ve reported them to Google’s abuse department so they may not still be up when you read this. But I’ve included a screenshot of the Payments page just to give you an idea of what I’ve been describing here. Scammers do move around a lot on the ‘net; it’s possible you may see this somewhere else.

"Amazon Payments" scam page

Scam reported at FightTheScams.com


18 Comments on “Amazon Payments scam”

  1. tpower says:

    Hello was this a Motorhome located in Yellowknife?I am looking at buying it but it just doesn’t sound right!Thanks!

  2. PrudentCanadian22 says:

    I have a similar case, also a vehicle and also from Yukon trying to get payment from an amazon payment link… in my case it is for a Harley bike nicely priced on KIJIJI a popular buy-sell web site in Canada. The adress provided on the seller ad was in Kingston, Ontario. Here is the email I received:
    Hi,
    This bike has absolutely no mechanical problem,no accidents, never been down, the engine has no leaks or problems.
    I am letting it go with shipping and handling included. I am selling it because I’ve relocated in Europe and it is too expensive to import it here. The unit is now in the Yukon Territories, at Amazon warehouse (crate# 459827) 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.
    Thanks,
    Aldin

    The price is $7,815 with shipping included.
    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 bike 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 in 3 working days and I will be in charge of the return shipping fee. They will hold the money until you confirm that the bike 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 bike is as advertised knowing that a 3rd party has the payment secured.
    In order to start the transaction, please go on Amazon Payments, register with your info and once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details.

    Thanks
    Aldin

  3. Gregg Ross says:

    Excellent info – looked at a “Yukon” Honda Valkyrie advertized by Aldin on Kijiji who claimed to have moved to Europe – familiar. The wording on the reply re the bike’s condition was exactly the same for a different bike all together. When I read more detail on the Amazon Payments site the issue became sketchier (word?) You have a great site hear, was easy to find and helped save my time.

    Cheers

  4. jonmorton says:

    I had similar experience 6/5/12 with a 40′ 2000 Contessa RV for sale on Craiglist (Anchorage, Ak). “Joanne Hartley” from Augusta, Me had the unit for sale at an exception price, shipping and handling included. Amazon Payments was to be used as an impartial 3rd party. The email responses were verbatim to what PrudentCanadian22 shows above. The scammers fake Amazon website is very convincing as are their follow up documents (transaction details and vehicle report, “invoice”).

    Craigs List and the real Amazon Payments has been advised of the scam and I’m trying to get in touch with Bank Of America (NC)which is where I was supposed to wire money.

    I’m glad I took the time to scrounge the internet for similar instances. This website saved me $14,500.

  5. kip1790 says:

    I also had a similar experience on AutoTrader.ca looking for a sail boat with an inidividual claiming to be an Abigail Logan from the UK. He/she has a direct replica of the Amazon Payments site, URL: http://intenatuonalll.freeoda.com/Amazon-Payments-Online-Transactions/index.html

    You have to sign up by putting all your information in to it so it looks legit, you get your registration email and then instructions to wire transfer the money. This was reported to Amazon Payments and AutoTrader. The individual had multiple sail boats advertised.

    If I can offer any advice it would be if it seems too good to be true then IT IS! Check the URLs on the sites they send you, they are often close ripoffs like the URL above. Report any instance you encounter so the next person does not fall for these scams. Ads are usually very brief and have no phone number and the info he may provide you may contradict what is posted in these ads because they post so many of them.

    From: Abigail Logan [mailto:log.abigail66@gmail.com]
    Subject: Important Sales Lead from AutoTrader

    Hi,
    I’m sorry the boat is listed like a 1996 model and is a 2000 model.
    The price is C$13,100 with shipping and handling fees included.
    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 boat 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 boat 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 boat is as advertised knowing that a 3rd party has the payment secured.
    In order to start the transaction, please go on Amazon Payments, register and then click purchase an item, once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details.

    Thanks
    Abigail

  6. Marc says:

    Same here for a Roadtrek form Autotrader :

    Phoebe Kellet

    Hi,

    The price is C$12,300 with shipping included.
    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 rv 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 in 3 working days and I will be in charge of the return shipping fee. They will hold the money until you confirm that the rv 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 rv is as advertised knowing that a 3rd party has the payment secured.
    In order to start the transaction, please go on Amazon Payments, register and then click purchase an item, once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details.

    Thanks
    Phoebe

    Here are the rv details:

    70,447 kms
    Type: Motorized class B
    Length (feet): 19
    Fuel type: Gas
    Sleeping capacity: 4
    Awnings: 1
    Water capacity (gallons): 11-20
    Air conditioners: 2
    This is a 1998 Roadtrek 190 Versatile that is absolutely gorgeous.
    full maintainance at all scheduled intervals. The tires are brand new along with full service.The Onan microlite 2800 watt generator has been fully serviced It has a new exhaust system.The generator has only 49 hours and runs perfect.The inside is immaculate along with a super clean body.The drivetrain is excellant and this Roadtrek runs and drives perfect.All books ,records and remotes are included in sale.With under 71,000 original kms this Roadtrek is an excellant investment for anyone.

  7. nikpuariea says:

    Here is the scam that I was involved with and currently working with Bank of America and the local police. Please do not fall victim to these scammers. Evan Martinez and Chris Cottrell. They have scammed me of $4000.00. All phone numbers that they called me from now go to voice mail.

    From: evanmartinez01@hotmail.com

    Subject: RE: 2008 KZ Coyote MXT20 Sportster
    Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2012 04:47:41 +0000

    Hi Nichole,

    Right now I am at the military base getting ready for Afghanistan. This means that I am doing a special training and I am not allowed to get out of the unit. The camper is already at the shipping company in Topeka KS sealed and ready for the shipping. My presence won’t be necessary because I prearranged the deal with Amazon. The deal includes free delivery and it will arrive at your address in 3 days. You will have 5 days to test it and inspect it prior to making any purchase and if by any reason you find something you don’t like about it you can send it back at my expense.
    If you are interested in knowing more info about how it works, i can ask Amazon to send you an email with more information on how to purchase it. Amazon will contact you shortly after they have the details with all the information that you need to complete this deal and you will also have proof that I am covered by them and a legitimate seller. If you would like to receive the email from Amazon with all the transaction information please reply with your full name and phone # and they will contact you right away.

    Regards

    Here is the email from Amazon Payments that was sent to me.
    Seller: Evan Martinez For any questions you can call Amazon
    1390 Huntoon St. Customer Support Centre: 1-877-814-4620 .
    Topeka KS 66501

    Item: 2008 KZ Coyote MXT20 Sportster
    Title Clear
    VIN: 1FFDS343F

    The item is currently stored with all the paperwork in Amazon’s warehouse number 38, in Topeka KS.
    Order Summary:
    Details:
    Invoice #: 1832009221
    Subtotal of item: $4,000.00
    ——
    Other taxes: $0.00
    Shipping fee: $0.00
    ——
    Total for this Order: $4,000.00 (You can checkout via bank wire transfer)
    The following item was ordered: 2008 KZ Coyote MXT20 Sportster (VIN: 1FFDS343F)

    Payment Instructions:

    Amazon Financial Department assigned for this transaction as method of payment, a bank wire transfer, this being the safest way to pay for your item that you are trying to purchase online. This way we can guarantee you 100% protection and insurance in this transaction. For security reasons the wire transfer needs to be completed in person at the your bank. Once the payment has been wired into one of Amazon’s Trust Fund accounts please call our Customer Support Centre to confirm it, and also to provide your shipping address, so the delivery of your item can be started.
    If you are ready to move forward and would like to receive the payment instructions or if you have any questions, please feel free contact Amazon Customer Support Centre at : 1-877-814-4620 .

    What makes Amazon FPS a trusted platform for payments?
    Amazon has spent over a decade developing, testing, and operating a robust payments infrastructure to support millions of daily transactions. Amazon FPS allows you to benefit from these highly reliable, scalable, and safe systems. Amazon FPS provides you the same trusted payment experience available on Amazon today, leveraging Amazon’s proven fraud detection capabilities, chargeback controls, and risk management techniques.
    Amazon Flexible Payment Service Details:
    What is the Amazon Payments Buyer Dispute Program?
    We want buyers to purchase with confidence when using Amazon Payments. However, disputes between buyers and sellers will occasionally occur. When this happens buyers should first contact sellers directly to try to find a solution. If the parties cannot resolve their dispute, the Amazon Payments Buyer Dispute Program will refund the buyer in full in the same day.What’s a chargeback?
    A chargeback is a reversal of payment issued by the bank when a buyer disputes a charge. A chargeback can occur when a buyer has not received the item or is dissatisfied with the purchase and has not been able to resolve a complaint with the seller.How does the chargeback process work?
    Typically, a buyer contacts his or her bank to request a chargeback. We work with your bank to resolve the chargeback. We will refund you in maximum 24 hours from the moment you request a chargeback.
    How does Amazon Payments protect buyers from fraud?
    You can feel safe and secure while you are buying an item online. Amazon Payments is backed by Amazon’s leading fraud protection technology. Under our Payment Protection Policy, we will not hold you liable for fraud-related chargeback. .When is a buyer covered under the Amazon Buyer Dispute Program?
    The Buyer Dispute Program applies when the buyer used Amazon Payments to purchase a non-physical item or service from a seller, and either the buyer paid Amazon for the item or service, but it was not delivered, or the buyer received the item, but the item is materially different than the way the seller described it or by any reason the buyer is not satisfied with them item.
    The A-to-Z Guarantee only applies to the purchase of physical goods. Therefore, the following items are not covered by the Amazon A-to-z Guarantee: payments for services, digital merchandise, and cash equivalent instruments .How much coverage will buyers receive under the Amazon A-to-Z Guarantee program?
    Buyers who pay for qualified physical goods using Amazon Payments are eligible for a coverage up to $20,000.
    Amazon has built up a base of millions of satisfied customers over the years through an intense focus on being responsive to their concerns and acting quickly to resolve any outstanding problems. The vast majority of customers never need to use the A-to-Z Guarantee reimbursement program, but for those who do, the guarantee claim gives customers a greater sense of trust and confidence in shopping from the broad range of sellers.
    © 1996-2012, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates .

  8. April says:

    Buying cars online can be tricky. You have to beware of scammers. I only purchase items that are low in price online. I sell stuff and when I was processing with Amazon I got ripped off buy a buyer and they sided with him which left me short a pretty penny. After my experience I opened an account with www.merchantinc.com I am really satisfied with their service and they have great fraud protection in place for all account holders. Cons are all over the net, you really have to think before you buy or sell.

  9. MadeInManhattan says:

    Another Reason I will not ever use Amazon. As big as they are you would think they would have that under control. I’m so happy I don’t have those issues with Merchant Inc. You should try them www.merchantinc.com They don’t have the issues other payment processors do.

  10. Christy1282 says:

    Craigslist boat for sale $13,000:

    Original email when I asked for more information on the boat.

    “This boat has absolutely no mechanical problem, the exterior has no scratches, rust or dents and the interior is like new.

    I am letting it go for $13000, shipping and handling included. I am selling it because my husband died and I don’t need it anymore.
    Because I am not able to close the deal myself, I have chosen to use a third party company to handle the sale. This way we are both protected.
    Let me know if you’re interested and if you have questions.

    Sarah Martins”

    When I requested to see the boat:

    ” want to use as a third party Amazon Payments ( visit their website, click here on Amazon Payments ).
    I want to use Amazon Payments because I have an agreement with them and a purchase protection account of $50000 so we will both be 100% protected in this deal.
    They will hold the money for you until you have it inspected.
    Please let me know if you want to make a deal in this way and I will explain you the payment procedure.

    Sarah”

    When I clicked on the Amazon Payments link I knew it was a scam, when you roll your cursor over all the links not all of them are active.

    Beware.

  11. philfromwinnipeg says:

    Thanks so much for the info!! Here is what I received regarding a 2008 Subaru Outback 2.4i Touring in Whitehorse Yukon advertised on Kijiji.

    Link to kijiji : http://winnipeg.kijiji.ca/c-cars-vehicles-cars-trucks-2008-Subaru-Outback-2-5i-Touring-Wagon-W0QQAdIdZ412907822

    First email

    Hello Philippe??
    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.??Thank you,

    Second Email :

    Hi ,?Let me explain how it 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.

    Thank you,

    Do you recognize the exact same paragraphs…I call it too identical to be true…

    I contacted Kijiji to have the add removed.

    Thanks again for the info, and hope that this helps

    Phil

  12. Mabord says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It looks like a lot of cars are for sale in Whitehorse!!! I experienced the same scam in Kijiji Winnipeg about a Honda Fit. Word by word same email exchange. Thanks to this webiste that I checked first, I saved lots of money! Don’t be fool. Check the URL of the link provided BEFORE starting any transaction.
    As said many times in the Web: Don’t buy a car before seeing first the seller and the car.
    Too good to be true is true!
    If the seller request the money before you get to see the goods, don’t do it!
    :)

  13. Mil says:

    I’m sure glad I did my due diligence! Thank you for noting the “Sarah Martins” email. I responded to a Craigslist ad for a 2001 VW Rialta RV. Interestingly, the price was the same as the asking price of the sailboat above. Note the language below.

    sarahO@rogers.com

    This RV has absolutely no mechanical problem, the exterior has no scratches, rust or dents and the interior is like new, no accidents.
    I am letting it go for $13000, shipping and handling included. I am selling it because my husband died and I don’t need it anymore.
    Because I am not able to close the deal myself, I have chosen to use a third party company to handle the sale. This way we are both protected.
    Let me know if you’re interested and if you have questions.

    The above was the first response I had to my inquiry. When I insisted that I wanted to see the vehicle (it was listed on Craigslist Fraser Valley site which is close to where I live) here’s what I got for a reply:

    I want to use as a third party Amazon Payments ( visit their website, click here on Amazon Payments ) because I have an agreement with them and a purchase protection account of $50000 so we will both be 100% protected in this deal.
    You will have to make the payment to Amazon Payments. The shipping will be started in 24 hours after your payment is confirmed. The RV 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 RV 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 RV is as advertised knowing that a 3rd party has the payment secured.
    In order to start the transaction, please click here to go on Amazon Payments at: Register & Buy and register, once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details.

    Sarah

    I pushed it one more time saying that it was silly to be so close and not be able to see what I was trying to buy. Here’s the next reply:

    I’m in United Kingdom and the motorhome is at the Amazon Payments warehouse in Edmonton, you could ask them about the reference number is 447452. I had it listed on several cities because the shipping is free anywhere in Canada.
    You will have to make the payment to Amazon Payments, they will keep the money in an escrow account. They are waiting for the confirmation of your payment in order to start the delivery. You will have 5 days for inspection, refundable period, in order to confirm that it is as I have described it, with no problems, if you don’t like it, they will give your money back in full amount.
    Please go on Register & Buy and register, once you do that, Amazon Payments will send you the invoice with all the payment and shipping details.

    Sarah

    I’ve noticed that the ad has disappeared from Craigslist.
    Any suggestions of what I might do next?

  14. AmyT says:

    I came across this scam twice for the VW Eos in TOronto, using Autotrader.ca.It’s kind of funny, because I wrote a series of articles on my experiences as a single woman buying a car, and both of the private sellers I contacted both used the same scam. I was very surprised with the level of writing – it was personable and I didn’t think it was a scam until they told me about the third party… and then the location of the vehicle changed – first it was in Toronto, the in South Carolina – WTF?!?
    Anyway, if you want to read my article on online scammers selling cars, I will include the link. It also features the screen caps of the emails sent to me and a picture of the listing.
    http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2012/11/going-topless-bring-out-the-scammers-and-sleezeballs.html

  15. wedixon says:

    I’m grateful for this site as well.

    I also followed up on ‘Sarah Martins’ ad selling her recently deceased husbands’ 2001 Rialta RV up in Whitehouse.
    Although her responses to my inquires were wanting I must admit that her ‘click here Amazon web link’ in the body of her text looked professional. Further digging though unearthed the site as bogus, as detailed in previous posts above.

    My default in these situations is to NEVER go to a pre-supplied web link in a message, but to open a new browser and find the site on my own.

    Keep vigilant all.

    Bill

  16. jonathanbaca says:

    great summary. ipensatori.com recently covered this, pointing to cars.com as the source of fake listings and billing-support.com as the fake escrow site for amazon payments:

    http://ipensatori.com/2013/03/11/amazon-payments-scam-via-cars-com-et-al/

  17. AshCash says:

    I am now nervous I answered an add on craigslist didn’t get the exact response that you guys got. but she did mention that she was relocated and the car was on base in KS and would be shipped to nearest base to me then towed to my house and amazon payments would contact me. should I be on high alert

  18. leah83 says:

    AshCash… Don’t do it. is she now stationed in Anchorage Alaska? any chance its a 2002 Envoy? I have been talking with her since thursday. I found it too odd that when I asked her to call me she said she is training< yet the email before says she had just been promoted to Luitennet. Thank goodness for this site, and my refusing to trust just anyone. I cant believe there are such heartless people in this world! I wish everyone looking to buy a car would look on the internet first and find this site as I did. Thank you.

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