The I-Team often warns you about scams involving Amazon, where a scammer tricks you into believing they’re reaching out on behalf of the company. The scams vary, but the result is always the same: the consumer is duped out of hundreds or thousands of dollars. And now one consumer is suing Amazon, saying the retail giants should be taking action to stop these scams.
Amy Oates showed us a stack of gift cards worth $3,000 that she unknowingly turned over to a scammer. The scammer had called Oates, saying he worked for Amazon and that her account had been compromised. To secure her account, he asked Oates to buy gift cards and share the 16-digit numbers on the back of the card. Confused and flustered, Oates did what he asked.
“As they were asking me to do it, it didn’t make any sense to me. And I was concerned about what they were asking me to do, and they kept assuring me, ‘Oh everything will be fine, everything will be back in order,’” said Oates.
But as soon as Oates turned over the information, the scammer hung up. She called Amazon and learned she’d been duped.
“I just made a really really big mistake,” said Oates.
Oates is suing Amazon, saying the company should do more to warn its customers about the scam. Darrin Blumfield is her attorney.
“While Jeff Bezos is orbiting the earth and seeking to become the first CEO to go where no CEO has gone before, back here on planet earth, his company is negligently causing its present and former customers to be cheated out of hard earned money,” said Blumfield.
Blumfield is arguing that Amazon knows scammers are using its name to trick people, and so he says the company has a legal obligation to warn customers about the scam. He suggests they could post an alert on its website or send emails to its customers.
“If there’s any way that Amazon could have avoided the harm to Amy and those like her, they have a duty to do so,” Blumfield said.
Amazon declined to comment on the lawsuit.
But USC law professor Gregory Keating thinks Oates’ lawsuit is a long shot. He says if the scammer got Oates’ phone number through an Amazon data breach, then the lawsuit might have legs. But there’s no evidence that happened. So Keating says Amazon has no legal obligation to warn customers about the scam.
“Would that be a good idea for them? I think there’s a good case to be made that it would be a good idea for them. But it doesn’t mean they’re under a legal duty to do it and would be liable for a legal wrong if they don’t do it,” said Keating.
This puts the burden on consumers to spot a scam.
“I should have trusted my instincts, because it did seem weird,” said Oates. “I should have hung up the phone.”
Amazon said it will never reach out and ask you for payment or personal information. It also has these tips to help you spot a scam. And remember, this doesn’t apply just to Amazon. If your bank, or any other company you do business with, calls, texts or emails you asking for immediate payment – hang up and call them back, using the number on their website.