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FOX 8 Defenders: River Ridge woman loses $500 in Amazon scam

A Jefferson Parish woman thought someone got into her Amazon account, running up hundreds of dollars in charges. It turns out it was all a scam, and the consumer lost hard-earned money. She shared her experience to warn others.
Published: Jun. 16, 2021 at 10:59 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 11:13 PM CDT
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River Ridge (WVUE) - Nanette Caster of River Ridge uses Amazon regularly. “I had ordered a pen set, and I ended up with two of the same one so I was trying to get in touch with them (Amazon) to see about returning it,” she said.

So she called Amazon, or at least she thought she did. “It turns out I called the wrong number,” Caster explained.

But at the time, she was under the impression she was talking to an Amazon employee. “They were telling me that I had purchased $1700 on my account,” she said.

The person on the phone explained before he could help her with a return, she needed to clear her account, which showed charges for an I-phone 11 and a pair of Nike shoes, totaling $1700.

“I was like what? That can’t be right! Cause I did not order that. I mean they claim that it was someone from California that did that,” Caster said.

Regardless, the man on the phone explained she was responsible.

“He said to offset the charges you know to go get a gift card and to put the money on the gift card,” Caster explained.

Instead of just paying off the charges, he told her putting some cash on a prepaid gift card was an option to help wipe the charges clean. Caster says the man remained on the phone with her until she got to a nearby store, and that’s when he instructed her to put some money, $500, on a Nike gift card. When she was done, he wanted the numbers on the card.

“He was convincing. He had a very even tone, and he was nice,” Caster said. But when she realized something wasn’t right, it was too late. The money was gone. The man on the line had no connection to Amazon.

“Anytime somebody’s asking you to get gift cards or anything along those lines, it’s 100 percent of the time.. a scam,” Captain Jason Rivarde with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said.

Cynthia Albert with the Better Business Bureau hears it all too often. “Don’t listen to these people on the phone. They’re con artists. The only thing they want to do is separate you from your financial information and take your money,” Albert said.

It’s unclear exactly who Caster called that day if it wasn’t Amazon. Albert says in many of these cases, the scammers are reaching out to you.

“It’s either gonna be a recording, a call, or email, and they’re gonna tell you either owe an amount on your bill or you have a damaged delivery, and they need to find out information,” Albert explained.

She says a lot of times they ask for sensitive financial information like a bank account or credit card number and oftentimes can get their hands on a lot more money than Caster lost.

Search ‘Amazon Scam’ online, and similar stories linked to thousands of dollars lost across the country pop up, including headlines that show people have lost as much as $120,000.

“By the way, Amazon will not ask for sensitive financial information,” Albert said.

Nanette Caster isn’t out thousands, but she’s had to work extra hours to make up for the $500 she lost. “I just wanna get the word out there so these people finally get stopped,” Caster said.

Amazon’s website offers tips on how to recognize whether an email, phone call, text message or webpage is actually from Amazon. Also, the BBB’s scam tracker is another helpful resource.

If you’ve got a consumer issue you’d like us to look into, call the FOX 8 Defenders staffed with volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women or fill out our online complaint form.

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