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Amazon Prime Day is here, and scammers are looking for victims

Researchers are warning the public about malicious emails, fake websites, and delivery scams

Amazon box
Photo (c) AdrianHancu - Getty Images
Now that Prime Day 2022 has officially begun, scammers are coming out of the wings to take advantage of eager shoppers.

According to the latest Spear Phishing Report from email security firm Tessian, Amazon is already the third-most impersonated business by scammers in the United States (behind Microsoft and ADP). However, Prime Day is high season for cybercrooks.

The first few days of July showed that scammers are out early and in droves. Check Point Research (CPR) analysts say they noted an increase of 37% in daily Amazon-related phishing attacks in the days leading up to Prime Day when compared to June’s daily average. 

Prime shoppers beware

ConsumerAffairs surveyed the Prime Day scam landscape and found several things consumers should be on the lookout for. They include:

Fake websites: A lot of phishing is being done on websites that scammers have bought that contain Amazon-like URLs. Out of the 1,900 new domains using “amazon” in their online address, Check Point researchers said they determined that 9.5% (180) were determined to be either malicious or suspicious. 

The #1 thing anyone searching for a special Prime deal should be leery of are websites that look like legitimate Amazon pages but don't have official "Amazon.com" URLs. When ConsumerAffairs went shopping for Amazon-related domain names at NetworkSolutions, we found that we could easily buy plenty of URLs that might seem official or trustworthy. Some examples included bestprimedeals.net, amazonprime.gift, amazonprime.security, getyourprimedeal.com, and amazonprime.site. Scammers can buy sites like those for only a few dollars, and if a fake site snares even one gullible person, it could be worth the time and effort of setting up the trap.

Most of these fake sites may be set up to request consumers' personal or financial information, such as credentials that could be used to access bank and credit card accounts.

The Better Business Bureau suggests that consumers hover over any link that might be suspicious. If it doesn’t begin with "https://" or doesn’t link to Amazon's website, that is a red flag.

Emails:  Another way scammers conduct phishing scams is via emails. These messages are used to steal personal information and might also contain malware that can infect consumers' computers or personal devices. 

As an example, CPR offered an “Amazon” email that allegedly informs the customer of a canceled order due to payment issues. However, it contained a file attachment that would have deposited executable malware on the recipient’s computer when it was opened.

Here’s what one of these emails might look like:

From: “Amazon Customer Support”

Subject: Order Canceled Unpaid INV #XXXXXXXXX

Thank you for your recent order. Please find your invoice attached to this email. We greatly appreciate your business. Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you.

Best regards

Amazon Support Team

Tessian added that there are three things within an email that are telltale signs of a likely scam: a generic “Hello” greeting, a request for payment details, and clumsy typos.

Customer service phone calls: Criminals who use scam customer service phone calls will contact victims and say they represent Amazon. Oftentimes, they'll say they want to discuss a recent order, but they're actually trying to steal your personal information.

The BBB says consumers should think before taking any action that the caller might suggest. If you didn't order the item the caller is talking about, that's a dead giveaway that it's a scam.

Tracking/delivery scams: Dusting off a nugget from the 2021 holidays, scammers are once again using notifications about a fake delivery to get consumers to click on a malicious link. 

Amazon provides resources to counter scams

The thought of scams spoiling its Prime Day parade isn’t lost on Amazon. The retailer has put together a video explaining what tricks customers should be on the lookout for.

It also has information on how to tell if messages or supposed Amazon webpages are legitimate and how to report anything that appears suspicious

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