Reminder: A Legitimate Online Retailer Will Not Ask For Payment In Amazon Gift Cards

An online retailer that isn’t Amazon, yet who asks to be paid in Amazon gift cards? That might sound strange to practiced scam-spotters, but there are apparently shoppers who don’t find that idea suspicious. They should: gift cards don’t have the same fraud protections as credit or debit card payments.

One shopper learned that the hard way while shopping for a new grill. He shared his story with his local CBS station so other shoppers could be warned, too. The vendor (which has since shut down) told customers that by accepting payment in gift cards rather than by credit or debit card, they wouldn’t have to charge sales tax.

That isn’t actually how sales tax works: if anything, an alternate payment method would save the retailer credit card processing fees, which they may or may not pass on to the customer. It doesn’t really matter, though, since the site wasn’t actually selling grills. Or anything else.

The customer was told to send an e-gift card from Amazon to an address at the site, and then didn’t hear anything back. “I wrote 15-20 emails, and they never answered,” he told local news. Then the site disappeared.

Here’s why only accepting payment in Amazon gift cards can be a great scam: while Amazon says that they will freeze e-gift cards in some cases when the sender alleges fraud, this wasn’t one of them.

Since he had used a standard credit card to purchase the Amazon gift card, the customer was able to reverse the charge with his credit card company, but now Amazon insists that he owes them the full amount of the gift card.

Online Shoppers Warned Of Gift Card Scam [CBS Boston]