Victims have received emails claiming to be from ‘Amazon Payments’ or ‘Amazon Flexible Payment Services’ after agreeing to buy. These claim to be bank accounts that hold the buyer’s money for one week before releasing it to the seller.
Fake holding accounts
The emails are designed to get victims of the scam to pay upfront before visiting the seller to collect the vehicle, claiming they have a one-week cooling off period to reclaim the payment if they change their mind. This gives victims the false sense of security that their money is being looked after by a trustworthy third party.
In reality, Amazon do not provide ‘escrow’ accounts to look after payments; they have been set up by the fraudsters to trick the buyer into handing money over without having to show them the vehicle they think they’re buying.
When making a big purchase online such as a new car, always meet the seller face to face first and ask to see the vehicle before transferring any money.
If you receive a suspicious email asking for payment, check for spelling or grammar errors and who sent the email. If in doubt, check feedback online by searching the associated phone numbers or email addresses of the seller. If you suspect it may be from fraudsters, report it to Action Fraud.
False adverts often offer cars or vehicles for sale well below market value to entice potential victims; always be cautious if it looks too good to be true.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.