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I was advised to ask my question here so here it is:

I'm in the market for a desktop and I met an online friend who happened to be an employee at the company that I want to buy from, he gets an employee's discount. So he gives me his login, I went to the official URL and it's legit, and there does apparently seem to be other people who also used his account to buy desktops with his employee discount.

However, most people said it could be a scam. But how exactly could he scam me if it's the official site? I'm thinking about doing a test purchase of like 50 dollars so if I lose that to a scammer I won't be too upset.

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    This does have the hallmarks of a scam. I'd be worried, for example, about your new "online friend" being able to change the shipping address after you put the credit card info in to pay for your new computer. – ceejayoz Jun 16 at 13:25
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    "I met an online friend". So you met someone. They weren't a friend before you met them. And it sounds like this was very recently, so you haven't known them long. So what you are saying is "a stranger offered offered to let me use his account". Have you had any significant interactions with this person other than them offering you their account? – DJClayworth Jun 16 at 13:38
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    If it's legit, I would be very surprised if the company in question isn't going to flag the "friend's" use of multiple credit cards in exercising his employee discount. The friend is also almost certainly violating policy by allow others to use his login. More likely, the site is not legitimate, the "friend" has no association with the actual company, the order history is fabricated, and he's just collecting your credit card. – chepner Jun 16 at 13:50
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    To be fair, this seems like a lot of effort just to get a handful of credit card numbers. If the site only took ACH or other untracable payment methods I'd be more certain, but credit cards, paypal, etc. are fairly easy to trace and offer fraud protection, so I'm not seeing an obvious scam here. – D Stanley Jun 16 at 13:54
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    Given the circumstances it's plausibly legit, but I'd only go forward if you would trust this person with the same amount of money in hand. Or to have the computer shipped to them and then forwarded on to you. I have friends I would share e.g. my amazon account with, but the fact that you are asking makes it seem unlikely it is worth the savings. – John K Jun 16 at 21:53
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This is most assuredly a scam. You should stop contact with this person and you should not spend any money on the website. You are being set up for fraud or theft.

Some thoughts on how this scam works and some factors that show that it is a scam:

  1. Sharing employee discounts is almost always against company policy. When or if the internet-stranger you're talking to is found out, he'll be in trouble at work. Why would he risk his job for someone he met on the internet? I take care of my mates with deals and hookups in real life, but not people I just met.
  2. It's an "employee discount". You are not an employee. This isn't illegal but it is unethical. Be a better person.
  3. Even if the site is legit, how do you know your so-called friend really has an employee discount and isn't just a salesman? "Hey ,I got a special deal, but ONLY for YOU!", is a sales tactic.
  4. If the site used his login, then he can now, at a minimum, cancel the order or change the shipping address. Some sites save payment info and now the scammer can buy more stuff using your info.
  5. The scammer is an "employee" at a minimum. He could also outright control the site he gave you. You've now entered your personal info and credit card info into his site and given it to him, including the CVV code.
  6. Did you do any price comparison? Employee discounts are rarely more competitive than a simple 5%-15% off coupon or sale. Can you just buy the items you want without a buddy deal and without the risk for a similar price?
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    You missed the huge one, which is that the victim will have to enter credit card details which the 'employee' will then have access to. And the one after it, which is that often goods will only be delivered to the 'employee's home address. – DJClayworth Jun 16 at 14:00
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    Devil's advocate around point 1 - we don't know the details about the "friendship" nor the individuals involved. Thinking back to my part-time/summer employment days as a student, it was quite common for employee discounts to be used in ways that violated company policy. Maybe the friend doesn't particularly care or see the harm in giving random online friends their discount. OP should NOT do it, but we shouldn't always assume that this is a truly worst-case scenario. – BobbyScon Jun 16 at 14:10
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    "This isn't illegal but it is unethical." - IANAL, but I would not be so sure that this is legal. Obtaining a discount by claiming you are someone you are not could very well be fraud. – Philipp Jun 16 at 14:49
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    @BobbyScon I would argue we should absolutely assume a worst-case scenario, so that the OP isn't caught unaware by an even worse scenario should our assumption turn out wrong. – chepner Jun 16 at 18:15
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    Stop contact is extreme. There's no basis to conclude it is definitely a scam, it could absolutely be a friendly person offering to save op some money, even if it's too questionable to move forward with. I've seen people share F&F codes/links online many times, sometimes they do have access to legit better deals and it's unlikely anyone is scrutinizing it at a big corporation. – John K Jun 16 at 21:56
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I met an online friend, who just happened to work for the company I want to buy something from...

Taking "online friend" literally, let's replace this by "a friendly stranger I haven't ever actually met, and don't actually know in real life, so I have no real way to tell if things they say are true or false."

How well do you know them? Apart from "they seem friendly" do you have any concrete way to determine what is genuine or not, or who they truly are? Suppose they were in a scammer call centre in another country and just aiming to sound convincing,would you know?

Scammers can make people fall in love, let alone be friends. How do you know for sure? Assume they may be, unless you have a really good reason.

Also while we think of it, let's have the name of this desktop computer company, so people here can see if they agree its legit.

Bonus points for sneaky scammers, If the company and site are genuine but they hacked the website or something, or poisoned some DNS, so it redirects anyway.

So this friendly person pretty much immediately gave me their employee computer login...

Well. Isn't that..... generous? And the sort of thing most people do for people they've only met online.

Suspicion.

The corporate site shows other people use friendly persons login and have also bought desktop computers using his discount.

That one point, to me, is the smoking gun and huge red flag. Its a very high risk of being a scam.

Why the red flags at that?

Scammers are confidence tricksters. Some themes are totally pervasive - some kind of "too good to be true". Some kind of "convincer". A friendly helpful person who seems to like and trust you and says they are glad to cut a corner to help.

Now, the thing about a convincer is, most genuine situations people don't actually throw them in. The excessive step to show you it's safe, is WAYYYYY further than the steps needed to tingle my red scammer warning lights.

Think about it. If your friend offered to pay the £200 flight cost for a holiday this time round, and you pay back your share, that's fine. But if he opens his banking app and puts it in your hands, gives you the login, just to specifically prove others have gone that way on holiday costs with him, ..... Isn't that just a little bit weird?

That's what I mean by being an excessive step too far. A genuine person just wouldn't do that. They'd say, "I work there, I've checked my employee discount, its $X to me.... " and then discuss making a payment in some nice safe way that you get your cash back if the thing doesn't turn up.

What a genuine person doesn't do, is let an unknown-to-them "online friend" log into their own account, risking their job at best and a criminal prosecution at worst for fraud, from a completely different IP address than usual, with full access, to reassure that lots of people have done it. Like, this person has supposedly bought how many desktops recently, anyway?

And its pointless anyway, because none of that is proof.

Scammers are known to set up entire company websites for a scam. A web page that just happens to show lots of people doing it, is a good convincer but actually proves jack shit, because you have no way to know if even one of those is more than a fabrication.

And all the other elements too.

I don't buy that its safe.

Let us know the company concerned, and let's see if they are genuine or not too.

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    Well that's unexpected. A well known manufacturer. That needs thinking about. So my first idea, that even the company is a scam, is unlikely, that's big enough that the website will be sound, and they probably haven't poisoned my DNS or anything. I still think its a scam. Just not the scam I originally thought it might be. Add that info to the question, its quite relevant,and comment that you've added it, to other answers, if relevant to them. – Stilez Jun 17 at 18:20
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It's a well known commonplace scam, just forget it.

If an "online friend" wants you to use your cards for anything, anywhere, it's a simple obvious scam being run by a scam team. OBVIOUSLY. This is a million-times dupe on this site.

One point for the record. You can buy everyday desktops far, far, far cheaper from discount sources (simply the major online shops or major box stores) than "employee discounts". So even if it was not a scam (which it is) just utterly forget it.

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    But what is the scam? I don't think it can be called a well-known commonplace scam without understanding what the scam actually is. – BobbyScon Jun 16 at 13:56
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    @ceejayoz My point is more that this answer is too light on details to really be an answer. I don't disagree with the sentiment, but based on the limited info we have access to, this could actually not be a scam. – BobbyScon Jun 16 at 14:02
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    Guys - for God's sake - an online friend wants you to use their corporations PC purchasing account, why, they even give you their corporate login. For God's sake guys. Get real. It's a scam. – Fattie Jun 16 at 14:06
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    @Fattie OP's question asks "how exactly could he scam me if it's the official site?" Although the title asks "is it a scam?", the body of the question is asking for greater details. My intention was to ask for clarification so that the OP received the details they were looking for. Apologies if I struck a chord. – BobbyScon Jun 16 at 14:33
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    @Fattie Yes, it very likely is a scam. But your answer does not explain why it is a scam and how that scam works, making it a low quality answer. You might want to look at the answer by Freiheit which answers this question much better. Note how it actually teaches people useful knowledge. Also, when you think this question is a duplicate, please flag it as a duplicate instead of writing an answer. – Philipp Jun 16 at 14:58

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