Have you ever received a text message letting you know you’ve won an award – from Amazon itself? I certainly have, and I have even known one or two people who have fallen for these scams. Now Amazon is trying to track down these crooks, with a new trial aimed at unmasking 50 unknown defendants in federal court.
Here is the text message I got the other day from one of these scammers:
And here’s where it took me when I clicked:
According to Amazon’s legal complaint, which you can read in full below, the scam uses Amazon logos, website design and meaningless “surveys” to trick people into buying products. (those that aren’t actually from Amazon), apparently cheap. The crooks aren’t necessarily the ones selling these products either – but because they act as referrers, they receive finder’s fees in the form of affiliate marketing commissions. The Better Business Bureau said it received 771 reports of scams masquerading as Amazon in 2020, just behind those annoying calls claiming to be the Social Security administration.
The tricky part is finding the scammers, because Amazon doesn’t really know who they are, just what domain names they used to host the scam. But by taking legal action against these 50 John Doe plaintiffs, Amazon may be able to secure a subpoena to unmask their identities. The company tells us that it has worked in the past; in 2018, the company took legal action against John Doe over a very similar scam and was able to track down at least four defendants. Each case ended with a permanent injunction, court records show, and Amazon says it has won at least $ 1.5 million in settlements so far.
The lawsuit also gives Amazon time to find them (against statute of limitations) and warns fraudsters, just in case they want to stop before being brought to justice.