The Odessa Record -

Online shopping scams increase during holidays


Spokane, Wash. – Dec. 15, 2016 – An Arkansas woman lost $450 to a fake seller on the Amazon Marketplace. Mary Catron knows she will not be able to get her money back, so she’s speaking out to make sure no one else gets taken by this scam.

In October, Catron was shopping online when she placed an order for a rowing machine that was being sold through a private seller on Amazon. The machine typically runs for $900, but the seller was offering it for half the price. Unfortunately for Catron, the seller wasn’t legitimate. They sent her an official looking order form requesting she purchase an Amazon gift card and give them the numbers to pay for the product. Catron said she went to Walgreens, purchased a gift card and then relayed the numbers over the phone.

“Where I made the mistake, I didn’t check out the order through Amazon,” Catron said. “When I talked to Amazon they said ‘don’t ever do that gift card thing, because we don’t operate that way.’”

Since then Catron has taken steps to ensure that this is the last time she’s a victim of an online purchase scam. Catron changed her passwords on all of her accounts and signed up for programs to monitor and protect her identity. She is also keeping an eye on her credit score to ensure no changes occur. Catron reported the incident to BBB and hopes her story will help put a stop to scammers.

“I will be happy if this will help somebody,” Catron said.

Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest offers the following tips to ensure consumer safety during last minute holiday shopping:

Be cautious shopping online. Because many retailers now have chip card readers, fraud at brick-and-mortar stores is down. To combat this, scammers have shifted their efforts online. Use a credit (not debit) card online and only shop on secure websites. Look for https in the address (the extra “s” is for “secure”) and for a lock symbol.

Spot look-alike websites. Watch out for URLs that use the names of well-known brands along with extra words. Even the confirmation email can be deceiving.

Say no to unusual forms of payment. Be wary of anyone who asks you to pay for holiday purchases using prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire transfers, third parties, etc. These payments cannot be traced and cannot be undone.

Avoid free gift cards. Pop-up ads or emails offering free gift cards are often just a ploy to get personal information that can later be used for identity theft.


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