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Recently, I was scammed for several thousand dollars in Amazon gift card scam. I received email from Amazon.com that "several thousand worth of electronic goods will be delivered in next 2 days. If you did not purchase these good, please call this number..." I called the number. Person on other end said they were with Amazon. He stated that your Amazon account has been compromised in several foreign country's servers. They have created an Amazon wallet. In order to fix it they have to enter overseas servers. For this they need cash. Amazon will reimburse me. Best way to get cash is to buy gift cards.

I purchased gift cards. At first trying large dollar amount transaction but they did not go through. I was advised by cashiers, in all cases, to try several transaction in smaller amounts. This way purchases were successful. In one case cashier sent me to two cash registers.

Question is - can I get money back?

Further who is responsible for this fraud:

  • Me - Because I gave my credit Card.
  • Merchant - Because cashier did not recognize it is a scam despite 'red flag' , because transaction did not materialize in large amounts. Cashiers ignored their training to recognize red flags.
  • Credit Card Co. Because their software did not recognize it ia a scam, because their digital security was inadequate. In one case, I received a text message - Did I authorize this transaction? I said no.
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    You bought the gift cards and sent the info to the scammers already, or you're sitting on a pile of gift cards? Why did you say 'no' to the credit card authorization question, was someone else using your credit card? – Hart CO Mar 2 at 16:23
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    ... "Amazon" told you to buy lots of gift cards, and you did not think this was a scam? – user253751 Mar 2 at 17:30
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    It is not other peoples' job to stop you sending you from money to scammers. – user253751 Mar 2 at 17:30
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    "several thousand worth of electronic goods will be delivered in next 2 days. If you did not purchase these good, please call this number..." <-- often scammers will intentionally (or unintentionally) use poor English or at least un-businesslike writing style in their correspondence. This is one tip-off. Sorry this happened. – Peter L. Mar 3 at 14:51
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    @UuDdLrLrSs Because it effectively weeds out smart/educated people that they will have difficulty fooling. They only want ignorant/vulnerable people to respond to them in the first place. – JakeD Mar 3 at 15:47
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Sorry to say, your money is most likely gone for good. You bought the gift cards from the store yourself, in some cases intentionally bypassing the procedures put up by the store to prevent gift card fraud. You mention "red flags" that the merchant and credit card should have seen, but you failed to see them yourself.

You could argue that the merchant is liable since the cashier helped you bypass the fraud checks for gift cards, but you probably pressed them to allow the purchase and they were operating under "the customer is always right". Even if you did try to get your money back, it would either be extremely difficult and time consuming, or most likely impossible.

The credit card company had no idea that you were buying gift cards to send to someone else. All they see is a large transaction from the merchant. For all they know you could have been buying a new TV and Xbox.

These are some things you should have noticed:

  • Email about an Amazon order you did not make. Never call the phone number in an email, always go to the website and call that number.
  • Amazon does not need to access servers to suspend an order or account. They are the ones shipping the goods, so they should be able to stop it if an order actually was placed.
  • Amazon will never have you pay to get fraud resolved and then reimburse you, much less have you pay for gift cards. You said the person on the phone said cash was needed, so why would they ask for gift cards? Gift cards are not cash.

In the end, the scammer is the one responsible and you are a victim. I would mark this down as a very expensive lesson.

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Unfortunately, you fell for the scam, bought gift cards and (presumably) gave them away, so most likely neither the merchant or credit card company are obligated to help.

Merchants are trained to help stop scams, but they can't be experts at fraud prevention and they can't be held liable if all they did was sell you the gift cards you wanted. People legitimately buy very large amounts on gift cards with some regularity, so while it might not be typical, it doesn't always indicate a scam.

Credit cards feature protection against fraudulent purchases, if an unauthorized charge is made you are protected. In this case it sounds like you did authorize the charges to buy the gift cards. Worse, if you did authorize them and later claim you didn't, then that's you committing fraud.

The responsible party is the criminal that perpetrated this fraud. You are a victim of this fraud, and unfortunately it is very unlikely that they will be caught and even less likely that you would recover any of your money.

Report this to the police, and report it to Amazon as well.

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Question is - can I get money back?

Most likely not (see the more extensive answer from Nosjack)

Two important warnings:

1. If you have been scammed successfully, the scammer(s) will (most likely) try to scam you again!

They have your phone number/email (and maybe other personal information) so it is quite likely the will try to scam you again in a couple of days/weeks/months. They will probably use a different scam, e.g. telling you committed tax fraud because you transferred amazon gift card money to a foreign country or any other scam (seel link below). Beware of any further scams or you could lose even more money!

So pay attention to any further calls, emails etc. asking you to transfer money via any kind of gift cards, western union etc.

You should never give any gift card number to anyone. No serious company, government administration or any other organisation will use them as a method of payment!

If you are in doubt about any further call/email, ask someone you know and trust personally. Don't rush any transaction (scammers try to pressure you, so you can't think clearly), but any transaction can wait a day or two!

Also check out the information about scamming and possible scams: https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds

2. Make sure the scammers have no further access to your computer, amazon account etc.

If the scammers connected to your computer (i.e. you downloaded something they told you to do, they typed something on your computer, they moved the mouse on your computer etc.), your system is compromised and the scammer most probably can see and log anything you do on your computer. In this case, you should bring your computer to an official repair shop (like physically) nearby and tell them what happened, so they can set up your system from scratch. Don't use any online repair option, as this is most probably just another scam.

Also change the passwords of your online accounts if you entered them, while the scammer had access to your computer. Only change your passwords from another computer or after your computer has been repaired.

Stay safe.

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  • If you get an email “This is Amazon, this time for real, honest. You have been scammed, but out of goodwill we will refund half of your losses. Please send us your complete bank details and gift cards for half of the amount that you lost, and then we will transfer a sum equal to the total of your losses into your bank account”. OP surely you will try to get your money back. Why not? Because the real Amazon wouldn’t refund you, and wouldn’t ask you for money to do so. – gnasher729 Mar 15 at 21:12

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