The first time I received one of these scam emails, about 18 months ago, I thought it was real. It included an Amazon logo and stated that I had purchased an $800 Dell laptop. It also said if I hadn't made the purchase I should call and correct the mistake.
I called and the person on the other end instructed me to type something into my computer. After I obliged, I realized he wanted access to my computer. I stopped short of taking the next step to let him in.
At that point, I said I wasn't comfortable and wanted to check with Amazon. He insisted he was Amazon and everything was fine. I ended the call. I reached out to Amazon and they told me it was a scam. Apparently, scammers try to access your computer to get personal and financial information, or they might ask for login information to an account like Amazon.
I've since gotten several more of these scam emails stating that I made purchases
Often times, I've called to confront the scammers. In one instance, I called and in typical fashion, the man directed me to type in info so he could access my computer. At that point I told him, "I know this is a fraud."
He insisted it wasn't, and each time I said, fine, "I'll check with Amazon," he said, "I am Amazon!"
I asked him why he wanted to scam me, that he didn't even know me, yet he wanted to steal from me.
I joked with him and he finally confessed that it was a scam. He said he was in India and he needed to earn money. He apologized and told me not to respond in the future to any of these email.
On Wednesday, I received an email with the PayPal logo saying I'd just purchased $499.99 in Bitcoin. It said the purchase might take 24 hours to show up in my account. It also said to call a number if I wanted a refund.
First off, the email came from someone going by the name Jeremy Campbell. It was also addressed to dozens of other people. Warning: PayPal and Amazon don't send emails under personal names, and they certainly don't send an email to you that is also adressed to multiple people.
I called the number on the email.
Here's part of the conversation.
Scammer: Thank you for calling support. This is Jaden Wilson. How can I help you?
Me: I'm calling I got a notification from PayPal saying that I purchased $499 in Bitcoin. And I did not make that purchase.
Scammer: Can you confirm me the invoice number or the order ID?
Me: It's 87993. HND 977 GB E.
Scammer: Let me check. and I'm talking to Mr Detroit?
Scammer: I can see here. This is a fraud purchase under your name. So did you share with anyone, your Wifi password or any personal information to any person?
Scammer: Who else uses your computer, sir?
Me: Just me.
Scammer: Do you know any person who lives in Cape Coral, Florida?
Scammer: Yes, because I can see here someone misused your personal information in Cape Coral, Florida. So what we need to do, we need to block this online account and then we will send you the cancellation page on your system...You type over there, help24hr.com.
I typed that in and it directed me to to a page that said "Fraud Prevention." He told me to click the PayPal icon.
Me: Hold on there. You want me to click on? Is that correct?
Scammer: Yes, you click on PayPal.
Me: Who are you with?
Scammer: I'm from PayPal. PayPal fraud prevention team. This is a fraud prevention team.
Me: What country are you calling from? Let me ask you something. I think you're part of the fraud. Am I correct? Hello. Hello. Are you there?
He hung up.
Amazon devotes a page to warn people of scams.
In general, people are warned not to click links attached to suspicious emails or texts, which can take you to fake pages that ask for personal information. Other times, the scammer may ask for a credit card number affiliated with your Amazon or PayPal acount.
Years ago, when I worked at the Washington Post, I used to get emails saying, for example, that the person's father, who was the minister of oil for Nigeria, had left behind $18 million. They then asked for my assistance to open an American bank account to put the money in. The payoff? I was to get $5 million.
I often would write something like: "What a great opportunity. Please call me ASAP!" I would then provide a number, which was often the FBI or Secret Service.
In one case, the person responded: "Mr. Lengel, how dare you give me the FBI number."
I responded: "How dare you try to scam me."
Other popular scams, according to the website Trend:
- USPS shipping notification texts and emails that say "We cannot deliver your package to door due to the incomplete house number, please fill in the address." The attached link will take you to a fake USPS tracking page that asks for personal information, including your street address and phone number. That information can be used for identity theft.
- Amazon is another most impersonated brand. This time scammers send fake security alerts with a set of One-Time Password (probably fake) and urge you to click on the phishing link to secure your account: "801626 is your Amazon OTP.If you didn’t authenticate this transaction,click here." The attached link will lead to a fake Amazon login page. Scammers can record all the credentials you’ve submitted and use them for their own good,Trend writes.