A couple of weeks ago I fell for scam in the amazon marketplace. Yep me. It was a clever one and not one I have seen written about so I am writing about it.
I was in the market for a truing stand for building wheels and truing them for my bicycles. Because I’ve done this for a while I knew the stand I wanted, the Park Tools TS2.2. It’s solid, accurate, fast, and the industry standard for wheel building.
With that in mind I was scouring amazon and ebay looking for a reasonable deal on one. They run a bit over $200 new and I was more then happy to pick up a used one if I could. So when I found one for $145 on Amazon marked as used it didn’t raise too many alarms for price. I’ve seen them sell for that locally a bunch of times. So, I hit order quickly so that the "used" item wouldn’t get sold to someone else.
With the shipping it was soon on its way to me for the reasonable sum of $158.39. Awesome!
Well... I thought it was.
Everything seemed normal for the first while. In fact everything seemed normal until the delivery of the package. Which... didn’t come to my house. In fact it didn’t come to my state. USPS delivered it on time... to Pompano, FL. I am in Salt Lake City, UT. Thousands of miles away. Here is the actual tracking data if you are curious.
That made me a little annoyed, but I still didn’t have an idea what was going on. I suspected an innocent mistake had happened in shipping. It happens right?
Amazon requires that you contact the seller before you file an A-Z support request and allow the seller 2 days to respond. So I did. They of course did not respond. Why would they? They have had my funds for ~7 days at this point.
It looks like what they did was ship a small package with a USPS tracking number. Either to an accomplice or to a random address... doesn’t really matter for this to work. Once they generate the tracking number and it ships Amazon releases the funds to them so they got their money.
And I got the impression that the package was on its way.
Why USPS? It doesn’t show you the size, or weight, or destination city of a package. It hides all the information that would have let me catch this earlier. It is the perfect unwitting accomplice just as I had been the perfect unwitting target.
After a few days I heard from Amazon. They were going to refund my purchase amount. Which was great, sort of.
I don’t know what happened to good old wakefield622. If you see that name popup as a seller on Amazon avoid it. It’s a scam. Currently their storefront is empty... which hopefully means that Amazon shut them down.
Thoughts on avoiding this stuff
This scam is super easy to pull off. It’s simplicity is mind-blowing.
So to avoid it in the future I am going to check the reviews of sellers for things I buy that aren’t fulfilled by Amazon. I don’t remember even noticing the reviews on the seller. They may have been fine at the time I ordered, but by the time I was digging they were down to 1%. I suspect they dumped it and ran knowing this would happen.
But check reviews of the seller. If a price seems like a deal, it might be a scam.
I am also going to be more biased towards seller’s who handle their fulfillment through Amazon. Can’t scam that with the same ease.
Hopefully this is interesting to others, it was eye opening to me. I am glad I got my money back but I still feel a little embarrassed that I got duped.
Keep your eyes open, and be careful out there. With the ease with which wakefield622 pulled this off I am sure they have other names and that others are doing the same thing. The money is too easy for this scam to disappear.