Scammers are infiltrating Amazon—Here are the red flags to watch out for

If you're a frequent Amazon shopper, you'll want to read this.

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If you frequently shop on Amazon, you should read this before your next purchase.

There are now a slew of fake sellers on the retail website. These bogus sellers offer what look like amazing deals, but customers are sent a counterfeit product or no product at all.

BuzzFeed News did an in-depth investigation into the rampant problem recently, and some of their discoveries are pretty shocking.

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And these scammers know all the tricks. They use Amazon’s own policies against trusting customers, according to an article in Forbes. They post fraudulent products or listings for ones they never intend to ship. Then, the fake sellers give buyers a delivery date promise for between three and four weeks.

Why then? Because Amazon has a two-week pay cycle, meaning sellers get paid before a product even has to arrive to the buyer. So, once the buyer complains about an item (or lack of one), the seller still gets the money.

Although Amazon is aware of the problem and says they are taking steps to rectify it, some say their efforts are not enough. The scammers are simply too clever, easily finding their way around any safeguards the retailer puts in place.

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Amazon customer losing thousands of dollars

Rob Ridgeway sells board games on the site and estimates that he’s lost thousands of dollars in sales to fake sellers. He says that despite filing several reports to Amazon, he can’t keep up with the scams.

“I continue to play ‘whack-a-mole,’ trying to remove the fake sellers,” Ridgeway told BuzzFeed News.

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Although many people are finding themselves victims of the scams, in the end, customers usually get their money back through Amazon’s A-to-Z guarantee.

“We take swift action if we detect such actions from any source. We encourage any customer not fully satisfied with their order to file an A-to-Z claim or contact customer service,” Amazon’s media relations department told Forbes.

Still, of course you’d like to avoid buying from an illegitimate seller in the first place. Plus, if you needed that specific item ASAP and it doesn’t show up, you’ll have to start the search process all over again.

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Beware Just Launched Sellers

One way to avoid falling prey to the schemes is to pay close attention to a seller’s reviews.

If a seller is listed as “just launched,” they don’t have many reviews. And if they’re offering a deal that seems to be too good to true, that’s because it probably is.

Ditto if a seller has reviews that claim the buyer never received their items. Better safe than sorry.

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Amazon also offers several tips for avoiding scams. While some of these may seem obvious, they bear repeating:

Stay on Amazon

Never do business with a seller that directs you off of Amazon. A legit transaction will never occur outside of Amazon’s site.

Always verify the seller’s identity

Do not make a purchase from someone whose identity can’t be verified.

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Keep your information private

Amazon will never ask for your personal information, so don’t provide details such as your email address and password combination if asked.

Know who guarantees the transaction

Never send money to a seller who says that Amazon or Amazon Payments will guarantee the transaction, refund your purchase if you are no satisfied or your hold your funds in escrow.

Amazon is not a lottery or game

Never make a payment if the seller claims you will receive lottery or prize winnings or a large amount of money in exchange.

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Amazon is not a bank

Do not make a payment in exchange for a credit card or loan.

Trust your gut instinct

If a deal doesn’t seem right, err on the side of caution.

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Watch out for your money when buying online

Most sellers have every intention to conduct honest business. Unfortunately, a few people enjoy making a quick dollar at the expense of others . This means we have to remain vigilant with how and where we spend our hard earned money. Taking a little extra time to research new sellers and/or amazing deals can help ensure you keep your money and identity safe.

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