They’re not two words that one would expect to see in the same sentence: Amazon, and scams. But in 2018, the retail giant made the list of top companies who were impersonated by scammers. Making quite the unfortunate leap, Amazon scams in 2018 saw an increase to 564 reported and tracked, following just 24 discovered the previous year, according to the BBB.
Scams are Everywhere
Scams appear in many different ways, through many different mediums. We’ve all seen the old, and somehow still prevalent, emails detailing long lost relatives and Nigerian princes who want to give us inheritance money. We’ve witnessed the despicable actions of phone scammers preying on the elderly, leaving some entirely penniless. We’ve even seen the audacity of some scammers knocking on the doors of people’s homes and heartlessly scamming them in person.
With scammers creatively targeting victims both online and offline, people need to be extra cautious. The recent trend of scammers impersonating reputable companies in order to gain the public’s trust proved to fool many this past year, and has inflicted financial damage across the US.
Employment Scams at an All Time High
Three years ago, the BBB launched an annual risk report that details the top scams of the year, as analyzed by their risk tracker. Their 2018 risk report, titled “Tech-Savvy Scammers Work to Con More Victims: 2018 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report,” revealed that employment scams had emerged as the riskiest scams of 2018.
The Top Ten Scams of 2018* were ranked as follows:
- Employment (Amazon)
- Online Purchase (E-bay, Craigslist, and many others)
- Fake checks / money orders (“overpayment” wire transfers)
- Home improvement (fly-by-night contractors who requested payment upfront)
- Advance fee loans (guaranteed loans for an upfront fee)
- Romance (social media sites and online dating apps)
- Tech support (Microsoft, Comcast, Norton, and Dell)
- Investment (investing in a project or company that doesn’t exist)
- Travel / vacation (non-existent vacation rental properties and timeshare resale cons)
- Government grant (one time processing fees for free government grants)
I was personally exposed to 4 (!) of the 10 listed, each by phone call, but because I exercised extreme caution in the odd circumstances, I became quickly aware of what was taking place and was not victimized.
Were you aware of, personally exposed to, or made an unfortunate victim of any of these scam categories in 2018?
How Scammers Reach Their Victims
Scammers know how to prey on their victims. They either target certain groups of people, or randomly attack masses of people by way of illegal and unethical misrepresentation of a popular or common product or service.
Last year’s wide-spread impersonation of Amazon came at the exact time that Amazon was legitimately high profile due to the company’s expansion plans. They opened several new warehouses in 2018, and according to recent news, intend to build a second headquarters in Arlington, Virginia this year to complement their original headquarters in Seattle, Washington.
With this massive expansion, came a great amount of job opportunity. Thousands of new jobs were created to fulfill the growing need for employees in fulfillment centers and sortation centers nationwide.
It was all too easy for scammers to slide right in and take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Amidst the greatness of Amazon providing a considerable amount of new US jobs, came the swift deceit of frauds looking to capitalize on the event.
How did it escalate so fast? The combination of misappropriated trust and desperation of the unemployed.
Scammers fed on the trust and security that consumers have in Amazon, and the hopes of Americans seeking employment.
How You Can Protect Yourself
1. DON’T provide or confirm personal identification information to someone who calls you, even if they claim they are from a company with which you do business. DO hang up and contact the company in question using its direct business number. Have the company verify whether or not they have record of one of their representatives calling you, and if your account is safe.
2. DON’T provide any banking information or credit card numbers to anyone who calls you claiming they are from a company with which you do business. DO hang up and contact the company in question using its direct business number. Have the company verify whether or not they have record of one of their representatives calling you, and if your account is safe.
3. DON’T provide personal identification information, banking information, or credit card information to anyone online or in person without proper verification. DO complete your own due diligence in confirming that you are dealing with a legitimate representative.
4. DON’T be pressured into immediate action. A lot of scammers try to collect money up front, as it will most likely be the only time to collect. They don’t plan to stick around, so they want money now. DO ask for company identification, contact information, and time to consider their offer.
5. DON’T pay for any product or service with cash or any other untraceable method of payment. DO use a personal check or credit card that gives you the power to provide a paper trail if you need to file a fraud claim.
Scams to Avoid in Online Business
If you work online, your level of exposure to online scams can be quite high, particularly in the ‘make money online’ or work from home’ niche markets where you, likely, are affiliated with various types of companies who promote online marketing tools and resources.
How do you know which companies are legit, and which companies are scamming people?
Scam Reviews on BYIO
As we are a company that provides information and tools that facilitate online business, we feel an obligation to also disclose any information that we become aware of that may cause harm to those seeking online business. Therefore, going forward, you will see reviews on our site of products and services that are promoted to the make money online and work from home niche markets. We hope that these reviews help you to find additional sources of income through legitimate avenues, as well as to avoid those we find to be a scam, or otherwise not living up to their promises.
If there is a company you would like to see us review, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the company and any specific questions you have regarding the business. We will research, reply, and possibly write a review to share on our site with a credit to you as the inquirer.
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I hope that you haven’t been the victim of a scam, online or offline.
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