Beware: Amazon Prime scam

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This is our latest article in a series that puts the spotlight on Information Security. Here, Sarah Coles talks about a recent Amazon Prime scam and gives us her top tips for staying protected.

When a scam is really effective, you’re more likely to hear about it from people close to you. Hot on the heels of July’s Whatsapp scam, several colleagues have told me about an Amazon Prime scam that’s tricking their loved ones into providing personal information and losing thousands of pounds. 

Action Fraud has recently warned consumers of this scam – it’s cost victims £400,000 in just two months. 

Here’s how it works

There are variations of the Amazon Prime scam, but this is a typical scenario:

  1. The victim receives an automated call telling them a fraudster has used their personal details to sign up for an Amazon Prime subscription. (Others have been told they’re due an account refund).
  2. The victim presses 1 to cancel the subscription, connecting them to a scammer posing as an Amazon representative.
  3. The scammer offers to cancel the subscription by remotely accessing the victim’s device.
  4. The victim is instructed to download an application such as Team Viewer to enable remote access.
  5. The scammer asks the victim to login to their online banking account, and steals money from their account, often in increments to avoid suspicion from their bank. (If the victim doesn’t use online banking, the scammer can setup a foreign exchange account, such as Transferwise, and ask the victim to input their card details). 
  6. The scammer keeps the victim on the line for long periods to prevent interruption, deleting evidence such as the previous correspondence with the victim
  7. The scammer sells on the victim’s data, increasing the risk of further scams.

The sophisticated and personal nature of this scam means victims often cannot believe the representative isn’t genuine. Cold calling has increased in popularity with scammers, and makes it easier for them to continue their fraudulent activities.

How to prevent falling victim to the scam

It’s important that we all keep up to date with new scam tactics and tell vulnerable family and friends.

Here are my tips for staying protected:

  • Go directly to Amazon Customer support to check anything you’re unsure about
  • If you’re on the phone to someone and believe it’s a scam - check Google to see if any of the key phrases have been used in previous scams.
  • Never provide passwords or personal information via phone, text or email.
  • Never make a payment outside of the Amazon website – something the scam texts often claim you need to do.
  • Make sure you have anti-virus installed - this stops you accidently downloading malware.

Be particularly cautious of scams during busy periods like Christmas. Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime day.

And most importantly…

If you think you (or someone who know) has fallen victim to this scam, act quickly by contacting your bank, updating any passwords you provided, removing any remote desktop software you downloaded and running anti-virus software on your device.

You should also consider supporting ‘less tech savvy’ vulnerable family members with “parental” controls, and make sure their bank is aware if they’re a vulnerable client.

This article is for financial professionals only. Any information contained within is of a general nature and should not be construed as a form of personal recommendation or financial advice. Nor is the information to be considered an offer or solicitation to deal in any financial instrument or to engage in any investment service or activity.

Parmenion accepts no duty of care or liability for loss arising from any person acting, or refraining from acting, as a result of any information contained within this article. All investment carries risk. The value of investments, and the income from them, can go down as well as up and investors may get back less than they put in. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.  

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