Scammers are using fake Amazon payment sites to steal money from customers lured in by unbeatable deals.
Comparitech, a website which offers consumer advice on topics relating to technology and information security, recently investigated one such fraudster. The fake seller goes by the name Sc-Elegance. They have a reputation for selling expensive televisions and cameras at unbelievably low prices. But as many buyers have complained on Amazon’s forum, the vendor doesn’t follow through on any customer purchases.
To get to the bottom of the matter, Comparitech decided to purchase a 55-inch LG OLED TV that normally retails for over £2,200 on Amazon’s UK site but was listed by Sc-Elegance for just £1,318. In the process of checking out, Amazon said there was a problem with the item and directed Comparitech’s security researchers to contact the seller directly. So they did.
What followed was a series of emails in which Sc-Elegance confirmed the item was new, reserved the item for the researchers, and said they’d ship it out after Comparitech completed the payment instructions sent over in a separate email.
Not surprisingly, the payment email wasn’t real. As Lee Munson of Comparitech explains in a blog post:
“The final invoice appears to be from Amazon, but in fact uses a fraudulent email address, “firstname.lastname@example.org”, and an substitutes Amazon’s real email address as the username: “email@example.com”. The email requests a direct bank transfer to an individual named Darva Arron.”
Sc-Elegance UK, which uses a fresh seller account with the “Just Launched” status, isn’t the only actor perpetrating this type of scam on Amazon. According to Naked Security, others are hacking legitimate seller accounts with positive feedback ratings to appear trustworthy. They’re then abusing those accounts by telling victims to make purchases on fake Amazon payment sites where they could phish for customers’ payment card details. In other scenarios, they’re instructing customers to buy worthless gift cards instead of complete a bank transfer.
Comparitech reached out to Amazon about its experience with Sc-Elegance. The e-commerce website responded with this message:
“We advise customers never to pay for a Marketplace item outside of the Amazon.co.uk site and for the security of our customers, all communication for Marketplace items between the Seller and buyer should be conducted solely through the Amazon.co.uk site. If a customer is contacted by a Seller requesting payment via another method, we ask that they report it to us.”
At this time, Sc-Elegance’s products are no longer for sale. But the seller profile still exists.