What’s odd about this Amazon screen?
The first two prices are unrealistically high given that the 7D Mark II sells for less, and Mark I prices have fallen below £1,000. But that’s not the issue here. The real joker is the third price, absurdly low for a new 7D – even a Mark I. What’s going on?
Amazon customers buying from third party sellers enjoy the same protection as those buying direct from Amazon – provided, as with the first two sellers, they purchase through the Amazon site. But with the third ‘seller’ that isn’t the case. There’s a reason that middle column contains an email address. There’s a reason too why its @ sign is wrapped in quote marks, and why the message is punctuated with bizarrely placed full stops. Amazon’s monitoring bots crawl over the site night and day to spot and take down third party ads that include email addresses and “contact us” messages. It’s a low cost way of catching third part vendors trying to cheat Amazon of commission and, more to the point here, their ‘customers’ of somewhat larger sums.
Should I email the ‘seller’, using the address with quote marks stripped out, I’ll get a reply with Amazon screen shots containing fake Amazon URL. I know this because not only have I tested it but have visited forums where victims report their experiences. (Of which more in a moment.) The bogus details will vary in quality with the skill of the scammer but none will be good enough to fool anyone halfway alert. The bottom line is this: the moment a third party ‘seller’ wants to do business outside the Amazon trading environment is the moment a scam is being launched. It’s that simple.
But that doesn’t mean people aren’t falling for such tricks. The email will instruct me to buy an Amazon gift certificate as means of purchase or, as in one variant, make a funds transfer into a European bank account. The camera, laptop or whatever will never arrive and the fraudster will be untraceable. By me, that is. Whether Amazon could trace those perps using a gift cert is a moot point, though it would certainly take effort and resolve on the retail giant’s part. As would concerted investment in adequately warning of these scams. And not just effort. Is Amazon worried about negative publicity through drawing attention to the existence of such crimes? For whatever reason, a recurring theme on forums just mentioned is Amazon’s disinclination to do very much at all. This echoes my own experience. I’ve reported these scam attempts twice, sending emails and screen grabs to show what was being attempted. Both times I had this automated reply from a “no reply” mailbox:
Thank you for writing to Amazon.com to bring this to our attention.
Your message has been forwarded to our security department, and we will investigate the situation. Please note that you may not receive a personal response.
In all likelihood, the message you received was not sent to you by Amazon.com. We strongly advise that you *not* send any information about yourself back to this individual (especially your credit card number or any personal information).
If you have already submitted any personal information to this person via e-mail or on a potentially fraudulent web site, you may wish to contact Customer Service for assistance. To send an e-mail to Customer Service, please visit www.amazon.com/contact-us/
In the future, if you are ever uncertain of the validity of an e-mail, even from us, don’t click on any supplied links–instead, type our web site address “www.amazon.com” directly into your browser and follow the regular links to Your Account. Many unscrupulous spoofers mislead consumers by displaying one URL while taking the visitor to another.
By typing in a well-known address you can avoid this trick.
Also, please be assured that Amazon.com is not in the business of selling customer information. Many spammers and spoofers use programs that randomly generate e-mail addresses, in the hope that some percentage of these randomly-generated addresses will actually exist.
If you are trying to contact us about something other than a spoofed e-mail message, please contact Customer Service for assistance. To send an e-mail to Customer Service, please visit www.amazon.com/contact-us/
If you encounter any other uses of the Amazon.com name that you think may be fraudulent, please do not hesitate to contact us again.
Thank you again for taking the time to notify us of this situation.
Meanwhile, any Amazon search in Electronics & Photo throws up multiple instances of this scam, while Amazon sticks with its anodyne response.