Scamwatch: Amazon iPhone fraud

Don't be taken in by dishonest online buyers...

Updated: 
man receiving package from a delivery girl

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, how Amazon buyers are tricking honest sellers, and walking away with free iPhone 6Ss as a result.

How does it work?

There have been several recent reports of angry Amazon buyers receiving iPhone 6S boxes full of clay, not iPhones.

These buyers, so far all based in the US, claim to have been done out of around £650 each.

However, all may not be as it seems with this new scam. Many believe it is the buyers themselves who are getting their iPhones from legitimate Amazon sellers, before pocketing the device when it arrives – and filling the box with clay.

American software engineer and blogger Cory Klein has accused the buyers reporting the problem of being the ones trying to pull a fast one.

"It's the buyers that are the scammers," he said. "This works because Amazon heavily favour customers in their A-Z Guarantee claim process, and sellers don't tend to record video evidence when shipping expensive merchandise."

How can I avoid being taken in?

When selling something on a website such as Amazon, it is always a good idea to record video evidence of you packing and sending off the item concerned.

This way you can refute any claims against you, for example that you sent something else of lesser value.

Buyers, meanwhile, can protect themselves by checking a seller's rating and reviews from previous customers.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

Amazon's claims process does appear to offer a lot more protection for buyers than sellers, but your first step should nevertheless be to contact the company should you be caught out by a dishonest buyer.

You can do this by email or by requesting a call back from Amazon customer service. It is also worth reporting the incident to Action Fraud (0300 123 2040).

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