Watch Out For Bogus Amazon Marketplace Receipts

Small businesses that sell products via Amazon’s Marketplace are being targeted by a simple-yet-apparently-effective scam: Tricksters create fake Marketplace receipts and email them to the merchants with a complaint about unshipped goods. Gullible shopkeepers then send out refund checks to bogus “customers.”

The security gurus at GFI Labs examine the scam, and point out that most shopkeeps should be smart enough not to fall for it:

What happens once our scammer is armed with his fake receipt? Well, many sellers on Amazon will ask you to send them a copy of your receipt should you run into trouble, have orders go missing, lose your license key for a piece of software and so on. The gag here is that the scammer is relying on the seller not checking the details and accepting the printout at face value. After all, how many sellers would be aware somebody went to the trouble of creating a fake receipt generator in the first place?

Some things to note for the wary seller: not only will you not have a record of these people buying your products, you should be able to confirm with Amazon that no purchase was ever made. Check the orange order number at the top, because those are randomly selected from a set of looping numbers every time the scammer clicks on the “Order Number” button – again, something either the seller or Amazon should be able to check. Finally, the program seems to add some random digits on the “Visa: payment method” section in payment information.

The scammers apparently hope that frazzled merchants, under the gun during the holidays, will carelessly send out refunds without following the usual procedures. Sunbelt warns that Marketplace vendors should always be on the lookout: “If a “customer” seems a little peculiar, ensure you take a good look at their receipt.”

Taking a look at fake Amazon receipt generators [Sunbelt Blog]

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  1. maggiemerc says:

    If I can’t find your order through Amazon I’m certainly not cutting you a check.

    I hope other Marketplace vendors are just as careful.

    The main scam I’ve noticed is “it says it arrived but it didn’t. Refund or send a new one.” And I always tell them to contact their local Post Office and take it up with them. Once I drop it off at the post office it is no longer my concern (barring actual problems with the product).

    • Billy says:

      In most cases, a seller’s responsibility to deliver the goods is ongoing until the delivery of the goods at the destination. The Post Office is acting as your (the seller’s) agent and is, in effect, helping you deliver on your promise to get the goods delivered. That’s not to say that the Post Office can’t be at fault for non-delivery or won’t reimburse sellers for their screw ups, but ultimately it’s the seller’s job (usually) to get the goods to the right person and sort it out when the PO screws up. The seller’s concern doesn’t end when he drops it off at the PO.

      More info here: http://www.articlesbase.com/law-articles/determining-which-party-bears-risk-of-loss-for-shipments-governed-by-the-uniform-commercial-code-1443293.html

      In particular, the line, “…when the seller is required to deliver the goods to a particular destination, the seller bears the risk of loss until tender of delivery at the destination. § 2-509(1)(b). “

      • Coles_Law says:

        True, but the default is FOB origin. Specifically, this line at the bottom:

        Because a contract which contains no express mandate that the goods be delivered at a specifically delineated destination is not a “destination” contract, the buyer assumes the risk of loss, pursuant to the Code provisions, upon the delivery of the goods to the carrier. Caveat Emptor!

        • Billy says:

          Every Amazon contract is that the goods be delivered to a specifically delineated destination. That’s what Amazon’s business is. As such, when the goods aren’t delivered as promised, the seller is in breach and it’s his responsibility to fix that.

          Besides, Amazon’s TOS expressly puts the duty on the seller. Amazon will pay the seller on shipment, but deduct that money from the seller if goods do not make the destination.

          In any event, FOB Origin is certainly not the default (and I’m not sure why we’re talking about defaults b/c the terms of shipment are always in those Amazon contracts). FOB Origin are pretty much only used when the buyer wants to negotiate that a shipper different than the seller’s will be used. Does that EVER happen on an Amazon shipment?

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      While I am sure you have to deal with scammers I absolutely expect a merchant to get me the product. If the post office fails it usually falls on the shipper to file the claim, as they are the actual customer.

      I hope I never encounter you as a customer in the Amazon Marketplace. Of course I don’t think I have ever lost a shipment from eBay or Amazon Marketplace. Dell on the other hand really needs to work it out. I have had 4 Dell Laptops show delivered when they weren’t. I think out of the 4 occurrences the actual recipient eventually contacted 3 times me and once Dell had to ship a new one. But to be fair FedEx records actually showed it being delivered to an abandoned warehouse on the other side of town. The other times were DHL and Dell was going to ship me one anyways, but I was willing to wait a couple of days for it to turn up.

    • MMD says:

      Package recipients are specifically *not* permitted to file missing package claims with USPS. It’s your responsibility as the vendor/shipper.

      • Kitamura says:

        Well, I dunno, from my accounting class there are different points at which responsibility for loss or damage can change, it depends on if amazon allows vendors to choose their FOB terms (although it may be more applicable in a Business-Business transaction rather than a Business-Consumer one).

    • penuspenuspenus says:

      Ya, Amazon’s A to Z guarantee doesn’t let you play that old and outdated excuse:

      When do I use the “I did not receive my item or received them late” reason while filing an A-to-z Guarantee claim?
      If the estimated delivery date noted on your order detail page has passed and you have still not received the product(s) you ordered, you can file a claim citing the reason “I did not receive my item or received them late.”

      You can also choose the desired resolution:

      Received item late and would like to return: The item arrived after the estimated delivery date, and you would like to return the item to the seller rather than keep it.
      Did not receive full order or part of the order: Some or all items in the order have not been delivered to you yet.
      Received items late and would like to have shipping credit: The item arrived beyond the estimated delivery date, but you would keep it if the seller were to issue you a refund for your shipping costs.

      ——————-
      Even if this were Ebay you would lose your money. It is your responsibility to make sure that your product reaches the hands of the customer. It’s not the customer’s responsibility that you do your job.

      • coren says:

        Please, if the post office says they delivered it, what else is the seller supposed to do? The problem is obviously with the post office, and not the seller. The PO is exactly who needs to be contacted.

    • veritybrown says:

      This is why, whenever I’ve sold things on ebay, I’ve always sprung for delivery confirmation. It’s cheap insurance against a scam like that.

    • FLEB says:

      Regarding “Once I drop it off at the post office it is no longer my concern”,

      I’ve always heard it the other way around, that the buyer is supposed to contact the seller, and the seller is supposed to deal with the shipper. It’s the seller that’s the shipper’s customer, not the buyer– the buyer is paying the seller for an item in hand, which did not happen, and the seller is paying the shipper for shipping, which arguably did not happen. Each person deals with their own vendor.

  2. Wawa says:

    Amazon would largely disagree with you.

    From: http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=12758941

    A seller will be liable for a not received claim if Estimated Delivery Date (EDD) has passed and the order was shipped without tracking information. This policy will apply to all orders, including those shipped by media mail…. However, if tracking information does not show expected delivery in a reasonable timeframe, the claim will be granted and the seller will be held liable. This will apply to packages lost in transit as well.

  3. Wawa says:

    Amazon would disagree. It’s the seller’s liability to have package delivered to buyer.

    From Amazon’s Seller’s Best practices FAQ:

    “A seller will be liable for a not received claim if Estimated Delivery Date (EDD) has passed and the order was shipped without tracking information. This policy will apply to all orders, including those shipped by media mail. However, if tracking information does not show expected delivery in a reasonable timeframe, the claim will be granted and the seller will be held liable. This will apply to packages lost in transit as well. “

  4. CountryJustice says:

    All this law talk aside, I can attest, as a Marketplace vendor, that this kind of baloney is really, really easy to refute. It’s as simple as saying “Uh, no, that order does not exist. Get bent.”

    So not only is the burden of proof on the scammer–fake receipt be damned–but using the Amazon infrastructure means conflict resolution is handled with as little involvement from me as necessary.

    I am shocked that there are that many gullible sellers to fall for something like this.

  5. ttyR2 says:

    I’ve received two of these in the last month. If you hover over the link that supposedly goes to the details, you’ll note the web address isn’t to amazon.

  6. Maged says:

    Unless someone has NEVER issued a refund on Amazon, I don’t see this working. I’d be more worried about fake “Sold, ship now” emails.

    • levenhopper says:

      Eh, every time I get a “sold, ship now” email I always log onto the Amazon site to reverify details.

    • wildcardjack says:

      I’ve been FBA for the past 2 years, but I remember Amazon had gone to requiring you to use some seller tool in order to get the orders and addresses. The emails didn’t have buyer info anymore due to sellers gathering loads of marketing data to spam buyers with.

  7. almightytora says:

    Looking at the picture above, I see two dollar signs before the total (“$$300″) and no cents. That also is a red flag. All Amazon receipts have only one dollar sign (or currency of your choice) and it shows the cents no matter what ($300.00).

  8. faislebonchoix says:

    I make my own Amazon Marketplace receipts at home.

  9. cranguy says:

    As a (possible) correction to this article, I don’t think any sellers are sending out “refund checks.” The original article says nothing about that. On Amazon, refunds would be done through the site. What the scammers are HOPING for is that the seller sends the merchandise without double-checking for the sale.

  10. coren says:

    As someone who’s sold on Amazon before, this would never work as a method to get a refund. As no order exists in the system, there would be nothing to refund, and even if you got someone monumentally stupid to do this outside of Amazon’s control, you don’t think they’d remember selling a PS3 or some such?

    The way this *might* work is hitting people selling large amounts of items on a frequent basis. Going after Joe who is selling his PS3 and a couple games won’t work – he’ll know he didn’t sell to you.

    Trying it on someone who sells 40 PS3s a week (unlikely, but hey) might – they might not check, or delegate. But even that seems unlikely. I’m really having trouble thinking of a way in which this would be succesful, and worthwhile.

    • Everett says:

      You mean like all the merchants that sell on Amazon?

      • coren says:

        Most merchants using Amazon are either large stores/corporations/whatnot who can track their stuff, and wouldn’t just take a receipt at face value, or people selling in such a small volume as to be familiar with their orders.

  11. keepntabs says:

    On the other end, fraudsters create Marketplace accounts, and list items for incredibly low prices. When you attempt to pay for your purchase you get an error, and it often tells you to contact the merchant. The merchant will then send you a very real looking Amazon invoice, but usually with instructions to pay by Western Union or give your credit card to them directly. If you ever have questions about an invoice, you should contact Amazon’s customer service to get verification.