‘Amazon Prime’ fraud gang net themselves more than £1million including one victim’s life savings with cold calls claiming to represent the online subscription service
- A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said they would be issuing a fraud warning
- Police say the amount of money lost since October 2019 is as high as £1million Fraudsters gain access to computers by claiming subscriptions have been taken out
A major fraud scam involving claims to be from Amazon Prime was exposed by detectives today who warned the public that the conmen were operating country-wide with one victim losing all their life savings.
Police believe that the telephone scam has already netted the unknown gang more than £1 million.
Several of the latest victims to be contacted claiming that they have been duped into paying an Amazon Prime subscription live in Bedfordshire and today police in the county issued an urgent warning to the public.
A 2019 file photo shows a picture of one of Amazon’s German distribution centres. According to police, Bedfordshire residents are being duped by a scam which masks itself behind cancelling a subscription to Amazon Prime
The method behind the Amazon Prime scam
- The unsuspecting victim receives an automated phone message, claiming that they’ve been charged for taking out a subscription for Amazon’s Prime service.
- The message tells the victim to press ‘1’ on their phone, which they say will cancel the transaction.
- On pressing ‘1’, the victim is redirected to a fraudster posing as a Amazon customer service representative.
- After schmoozing the victim, the criminals tell the victim to download software, which provides remote computer access, including personal and financial details.
- Fraudsters have also tried to offer a refund for an unauthorised transaction on Amazon to gain access to the sensitive information.
A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: ‘We are issuing a fraud warning after a number of Bedfordshire residents fell victim to a scam, with one losing their entire life savings.
‘Action Fraud has reported that the scam was first reported in October 2019 and since has cost the victims more than £1 million.
‘The scam is carried out by phone call, with the victim receiving an automated phone message that they have been charged for an Amazon Prime subscription. They are subsequently instructed to ‘press 1’ to cancel the transaction. When they do this, they are directed to a fraudster posing as an Amazon customer service representative.
‘The fraudster advises the victim that their subscription was purchased fraudulently and that remote access to their computer is required in order to fix a security flaw that will prevent it from reoccurring.
‘The unsuspecting victim then downloads software which grants the scammers remote access to their computer, including personal and financial information.
‘Other variants of the crime involve fraudsters stating that the recipient is eligible for a refund for an unauthorised transaction on their Amazon account.
‘Bedfordshire Police would like to advise all residents to stay alert to this sophisticated scam and follow Action Fraud advice to stay safe.’
Fraud Action advises people who receive a call requesting remote access to their computer to contact them on 0300 123 2040 (stock image)
That advice spells out:
- Personal information – always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam. Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number. Try using a different phone line if possible or wait for a period of time as scammers have a way to stay on the line.
- Stay in control – have the confidence to refuse unusual requests for personal or financial information. It’s easy to feel embarrassed when faced with unexpected or complex conversations. But it’s fine to stop the discussion if you do not feel in control of it.
- Remote access – never install any software or visit a website as a result of a cold call. Unsolicited requests for remote access to your computer should always raise a red flag.
Bedfordshire Police Cyber Security Advisor Sean O’Neil said: ‘We would like to ask our residents to remain vigilant to any unsolicited calls. Make sure that you share this advice with your friends and family and speak to your elderly family members.
‘Remember to always protect your personal information and never grant remote access to your computer or phone to anyone who contacts you first.. Remember, if you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.’
How to beat the fraudsters
- Always question uninvited approaches in case it’s a scam.
- Instead, contact the company directly using a known email or phone number.
- It’s fine to stop the discussion if you do not feel in control of it.
- NEVER install any software or visit a website after a cold call.
- Unsolicited requests for remote access to your computer should always raise a red flag.
- If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040