Phone call scammers are contacting victims pretending to be from well-known brands such as Amazon, and falsely claiming that the victim’s bank account has been charged for a purchase.
During the calls, many of which may be pre-recorded messages, the victim is told that they can speak to a customer service representative by staying on the line, pressing a button on their keypad or calling a phone number.
The scam hinges on alarming or panicking the victim into speaking to a fake customer representative to try and get the charge refunded (even though the victim hasn’t really been charged for anything.)
This is a scam that is growing in popularity and can work in a number of different ways depending on the scammers. We outline the different paths this scam can take below.
The scammer requests the victim’s bank details to process a refund
Once the victim speaks to the “customer representative” (who is actually a scammer) they are told that in order to process a refund that the victim needs to provide their bank account details. The scammer will ask for enough information to allow them access to the victim’s bank accounts.
Alternatively the scammer will asks for the victim’s personal details, including their name, date of birth, address, social security or national insurance numbers. This information can then be used to commit identity fraud.
The scammer tricks the victim into thinking they’ve been refunded too much money and request the excess money back.
This variant of the scam can be much more sophisticated, but in turn far more convincing and allows crooks to dupe the victim into paying money through untraceable methods. The basic premise is that the scammer promises to refund the victim for the charge on their account, but during the “refund process” the victim has been awarded too much money. The scammer then pleads with the victim for them to send the excess money back via gift card codes, through a money wire service or even through a courier.
In some variants of this scam, the scammers can instruct the victim to installing remote desktop software onto their computers so the scammer, posing as a customer support representative, can “process a refund”. However using digital trickery the scammer can make the victim believe they’ve received money into their bank account (when they haven’t) and thus lure the victim into believing they’ve received too much money in their refund.
However no money was received by the victim (and nor were they charged any money in the first place!) and if the scammer manages to persuade the victim into sending over the “excess money” then this is money that the victim ultimately loses.
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The scammer tricks the victim into thinking their computer or account has a security flaw which can be solved by accessing the victim’s computer
The scammer, again pretending to be a customer service representative, will tell the victim that the charge was the result of a security flaw on the victim’s computer and the victim will need to install remote desktop software to allow the scammer to fix the flaw. However the remote desktop software, upon being installed by the victim, will allow the criminal to take over the victim’s computer and install malware. This can lead to all types of damage including the theft of financial information and identity theft.
If you receive a call claiming to be from Amazon or any other well-known company about a charge on your account, you should hang up the phone, especially if the person on the other end of the phone asks for your personal or financial information or wants you to install something on your computer to “fix the issue”.
If you are concerned that someone has made an unauthorised charge on your bank account, login to your bank account or call your bank directly to find out. Alternatively you can contact the company in question, Amazon for example, using the contact information you find on their website.