Amazon is one of the most trusted and widely-used online retailers. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of Amazon’s popularity and reputation to run elaborate phishing scams. One such scam promotes a fake Amazon loyalty program that supposedly offers rewards like a free iPhone for taking a survey.
This in-depth guide will uncover all the deceptive techniques used in this Amazon loyalty scam. You’ll learn how the phishing trap works from start to finish, tips to avoid getting ensnared, and steps to take if you fell victim.
This Article Contains:
Overview of the “Amazon Loyalty Program” Scam
Scammers are capitalizing on Amazon’s reputation for superior customer service by pretending to offer selective viewers special perks and prizes for their business. Emails, online ads, and pop-ups use Amazon branding to convince recipients they have been specially selected to take part in an exclusive “Loyalty Program” due to their frequent purchases.
Links embedded in these messages route victims to sophisticated fake websites dressed up to precisely mimic Amazon’s visual design, logos, and text. These fraudulent portals congratulate visitors for their loyalty and offer personalized surveys which supposedly help Amazon improve customer satisfaction.
However, the phony questionnaire merely captures private data to enable additional targeted scams moving forward. Afterwards, victims are told they have qualified to receive free gifts like iPhones, Amazon gift cards, or Echo devices as a reward for their participation.
To claim prizes, visitors must enter credit card information under the guise of a small $2 shipping and handling fee. Yet in the background, this authorizes the scammers to begin charging recurring monthly subscription fees ranging from $39 to $99 for unwanted digital services. Canceling these expensivemystery charges is made difficult by design, allowing criminals to illicitly collect hundreds before detection.
The “Amazon Loyalty Program” scam is essentially a phishing attack allowing scammers to steal identities, payment data, and money by pretending affinity for committed customers. Consumers tempted by special treatment and prizes from a favored brand must recognize this fraud to avoid financial loss and identity theft.
How the “Amazon Loyalty Program” Scam Spreads
Potential victims are first exposed to the scam via email, online advertisements, or fake pop-up windows while browsing legitimate websites. Each of these initial contact methods share the common goal of redirecting consumers to an authentic-looking fake Amazon portal to complete the fraud.
Official-looking emails pretend to come directly from Amazon’s customer loyalty team. These messages congratulate recipients for being hand-selected to join an exclusive program recognizing their most valued shoppers.
Tantalizing promises of free gifts, bonus points, and members-only perks bait victims into clicking embedded links leading to the sham website. Emails are personalized with the recipient’s name and designed to evoke Amazon’s brand styling to seem legitimate.
Malicious Online Ads
Paid ads running through online ad networks can infiltrate even trusted websites undetected. While viewing familiar sites, victims may see banners or sidebar ads inviting them to take a “special survey” from Amazon allowing them to pick a mystery prize afterwards.
Clicking these ads sends users through various unseen redirects before landing them on the final convincing forgery. Since initial sites hosting the ads seem legitimate, victims don’t realize the danger of engaging further.
Fake Pop-Up Windows
Some victims encounter pop-up browser windows while already browsing Amazon or other shopping sites. These fake alerts carry Amazon logos claiming shoppers have a special limited-time opportunity to enter an exclusive loyalty rewards program with free gifts.
Clicking anywhere in these pop-ups transitions users straight to the fraudulent Amazon portal without realizing they’ve left the legitimate domain. The seamless redirection bypasses suspicion to maximize engagement with the fake loyalty program.
How the “Amazon Loyalty Program” Scam Works
While scam details may vary slightly, the “Amazon Loyalty Program” fraud essentially unfolds in three core stages:
Stage 1: Landing on the Fake Portal
The deceitful portal visitors land on is a sophisticated forgery mimicking Amazon’s true visual design in great detail. Amazon logos, fonts, colors, navigation, and more mirror the real website to reassure victims of its authenticity.
False claims of being specially “invited” due to loyalty butter up victims, signaling VIP treatment and perks to come. Any doubts are suppressed by the extreme lengths scammers take to copy Amazon’s interface precisely.
Stage 2: Completing the Phony Survey
The fake portal prominently promotes an exclusive “Amazon Customer Satisfaction Survey” alleged to help improve services for loyal buyers. Flashing alerts insist this exclusive questionnaire is only open to select VIP members.
Victims eager participate, feeling the answers provided will directly shape perks for their tier going forward. However, the actual purpose is supplying scammers personalized data including name, gender, age, interests, shopping habits and more to refine future social engineering scams.
After finishing all questions, a congratulatory message appears praising users for qualifying to receive a guaranteed free gift for their time. Psychologically this reinforces feelings of special status and obligation to complete the process for “members-only” rewards.
Stage 3: Claiming the “Prize”
Visitors are finally allowed to claim their gift by playing a guessing game to determine the contents of one of three mystery boxes shown. Suspense builds as victims choose from Box #1, Box #2, or Box #3 – each supposedly containing an Apple iPhone, Amazon gift card, or other fabulous prize.
Regardless of the option selected, another congratulatory message appears confirming their wise choice entitled them to the free gift. Lastly, users must enter a valid shipping address and credit card information so Amazon can deliver the prize to their doorstep.
This final step authorizes recurring monthly subscription fees from the scammers completely unbeknownst to excited users eager to receive their gifts. Although victims consent only to possible minor shipping or processing changes, the true ramifications stretch much further financially.
What Happens Once Credit Card Details Are Compromised
After victims enter credit card information, most assume submission authorizes just a reasonable single small fee to cover gift delivery. Indeed, within days a $1 to $10 charge labeled as “shipping processing” or similar appears on billing statements from an unfamiliar merchant.
However, relinquishing payment details to scammers also permits them to make $39 to $99 monthly subscription charges for fictitious digital services without asking for consent. Victims find themselves billed repeatedly for things like:
- Fast PDF Converter membership
- Unlimited eBook Library access
- VIP Movie Streaming Package
- Adult Content Portal subscription
Of course, no such services were ever requested. These expensive charges are fabricated solely to exploit stolen payment data before consumers detect the unauthorized activity and shut it down.
Hidden monthly fees often continue for 3-6 months and scam merchants make cancellation extremely difficult. Fake customer support numbers go unanswered while emails receive only automated responses. This facilitates massive illicit profits on the backs of consumers.
Here is a detailed, SEO-optimized section on how to spot fake “Amazon Loyalty Program” scam websites:
How to Identify Fake “Amazon Loyalty Program” Websites
While cleverly mimicking Amazon’s look, fake scam portals have subtle giveaways exposing their illegitimacy. Learn these common red flags:
Analyze Website URLs Carefully
Official Amazon domains should always reflect “amazon.com” or regional equivalents like “amazon.ca”. Third party links should raise instant suspicion.
Inspect site URLs by hovering over embedded links without clicking first. Scam sites often have long, complex strings like “amazon-loyaltyrewardsprogram.offers123.com” betraying their facade.
Spot Duplicate Content and Broken Images
Counterfeit designers copy/paste genuine Amazon test verbatim, forgetting updating details like imagery. Thus most loyalty scam pages feature broken product photos or links across the site.
Plagiarized content and pervasive don’t match actual services messaging signals rushed assembly rather than official builds.
Look For Subtle Visual Discrepancies
Faked interfaces seem convincing on the surface but subtle inconsistencies undermine legitimacy upon close inspection:
- Pixelated or stretched logos
- Odd highlighting colors
- Mismatched formatting across pages
- Glitched navigation and menus
While tiny individually, collectively visual issues jar against Amazon’s slick presentations.
Seek Out Bad Grammar and Spelling Errors
Con artists building fraudulent portals quickly care little for polished writing. Hidden typos, clumsy phrasing and awkward sentences betrays non-native origins.
Legitimate brands present professional messaging checked by diligent copy editors before launch. Compare language quality across sites to reveal differentiation.
Scrutinize Limited Time Offers Pressuring Action
Scare tactics insisting exclusive access to loyalty perks are expiring very soon or membership quotas are filling up should raise skepticism automatically.
Amazon avoids high pressure gimmicks to generate false urgency. Tight countdown timers and constantly shrinking availability strongly indicates sham scam tactics.
What to Do If You Are a Victim
If you suspect you have fallen prey to the “Amazon Loyalty Program” or related phishing scam stealing financial data, remain calm and initiate the following steps to halt damages:
Step 1: Contact Credit Card Company or Bank
Call the number listed on the back of your credit or debit card and explain to the fraud department you have experienced unauthorized charges from a suspicious third party. Provide reference details like the date of initial transaction, company name, websites visited, charge amounts, etc. to assist research.
Emphasize no services or products were received in exchange for billing and you wish to dispute all related charges as fraudulent. Make clear you did not and would not consent to recurring fees from this company.
Step 2: Halt Ongoing Payments
Assuming your card is still being actively charged by scammers, request replacement numbers associated with a new account to sever payment authorization completely. This forces scammers to stop collecting additional fees under the old compromised details.
Be aware that merely requesting new card numbers from existing banks may not prevent future billing if debit/credit providers, expiration dates and CSV codes stay the same. Fully closing accounts altogether may be required.
Step 3: Issue Chargeback Requests
Inform your banking providers you wish to formally issue chargeback requests forcing the merchants in question to prove billing authorization and legitimacy of services rendered. When shady vendors cannot validate activity sufficiently, banks must honor crediting funds returned to account holders.
Step 4: Monitor Accounts Closely
Carefully review statements and transactions for all financial accounts linked to stolen card numbers for the next 1-3 billing cycles. Watch for any residual or secondary attempts by fraudsters to submit subscription charges you still need to dispute and block.
Step 5: Lock Down Imperiled Information
If you entered any secondary information like passwords or used the same card elsewhere while it was compromised, change this data immediately. Replace passwords with new robust alternatives, update payment profiles removing old card data, turn on enhanced account security settings where possible.
Step 6: Run Credit Reports
Some personal information submitted may increase risk of wider identity theft if phishers exploit it. Routinely run free credit reports to catch any unauthorized loans or accounts opened using your identity and report these right away before major financial consequences occur. Remain vigilant.
How to Remove Unwanted Apps and Malware
If you have accidentally downloaded unwanted programs or malware from a pop-up scam, you can find below a full malware removal guide.
Please perform all the steps in the correct order. If you have any questions or doubts at any point, stop and ask for our assistance.
- Remove Unwanted Apps and Malware from Windows
- Remove Unwanted Apps and Malware from Mac
- Remove Unwanted Apps and Malware from Android
- Remove Unwanted Apps and Malware from iPhone and iPad
How to Avoid “Amazon Loyalty Program” Scams
While designed to dupe consumers, certain consistent red flags can help Users steer clear of this fraud:
You Didn’t Sign Up For Anything
Legitimate loyalty programs require explicit opt-ins for subscriptions so if you never signed up, unsolicited emails or ads are shady. Prize offers and special treatment should rouse suspicion lacking registration first.
Links Don’t Match Typical Amazon URLs
Hover over embedded links to preview destinations before clicking. Amazon domains should reflect some variation of “amazon.com”. Beware redirects to any unknown third party site when expecting Amazon.
Upfront Costs or Requirements to Get Free Gifts
Gifts, rewards, and loyalty programs would never demand payment or excessive personal data to participate. Surveys, shipping fees and aggressive sales tactics pressuring users are universal red flags something is amiss.
Typos, Grammatical Errors, or Poor Quality Images
While clever replications, subtle giveaways like typos, language quirks and pixelated images betray the facade. Scrutinize content carefully rather than ignoring oddities assuming benign tech glitches.
Protecting Yourself More Broadly Online
Beyond just Amazon loyalty scams, all consumers can take certain steps to reduce chances of phishing attacks, dangerous redirects and identity theft while shopping and browsing online:
- Install updated antivirus software with real time monitoring to detect and halt known phishing attacks before engagement.
- Enable two-factor authentication using secondary devices adds critical login security across all accounts in cases passwords become compromised.
- Use a password manager to generate and store robust unique passwords for every account or website to halt lateral access in breaches.
- Closely monitor financial statements routinely looking for unrecognized subscription billings as warning signs of potential fraud.
Remaining constantly vigilant online and verifying legitimacy before supplying data minimizes vulnerability even as phishing tactics grow more sophisticated.
Frequently Asked Questions About the “Amazon Loyalty Program” Scam
The supposed “Amazon Loyalty Program” is actually a phishing scam stealing personal information and money from consumers who believe they are receiving special rewards. This FAQ covers key basics everyone should know.
What makes the Amazon Loyalty Program a scam?
The Loyalty Program pretends to offer VIP perks and prizes for frequent Amazon shoppers. However, it is actually a tactic to capture private data and credit card numbers enabling recurring subscription fees absent true services rendered.
How do scammers reach potential victims initially?
Scammers spread the scam via:
- Fake emails pretending to be official Amazon rewards programs
- Online ads and pop-ups redirecting to counterfeit Amazon portals
- Malware-infected ads and links infiltrating legitimate websites
What happens on the scam’s fake web portal?
The fraudulent site displays Amazon’s visuals identically to build trust. Visitors asked to complete an “exclusive” survey detailing personal information to “customize future loyalty benefits”. Afterwards, Users pick mystery gift boxes to claim falsely guaranteed prizes.
Why do scammers request credit card information?
Asking visitors to enter a credit card number allegedly to pay shipping on claimed gifts authorizes hidden recurring subscription fees. Monthly charges ranging from $39 – $99 billing victims repeatedly without consent for non-existent services.
What monthly fees may suddenly appear?
Typical surprise subscription charges include:
- Fast PDF Converter – $39/month
- Unlimited eBook Library – $59/month
- VIP Movie Streaming – $99/month
Why is canceling these fees so difficult?
By design, scam merchants make stopping monthly billing complex, using fake numbers and emails yielding only automated replies. This facilitates siphoning substantial ill-gotten gains from unknowing victims.
How can I avoid the Amazon Loyalty Program scam?
Exercise skepticism for reward offers requiring data or money to claim prizes never registered for originally. Avoid unknown third-party links,submissions supplying private details freely, and pressure insisting exclusive opportunities are expiring.
What should I do if I shared information already?
If you supplied any data, immediately contact your credit company to halt billing from shady merchants, replace compromised account numbers, monitor statements closely for added fraudulent charges emerging over 1-3 billing cycles.
Staying vigilant for manipulative tactics can help consumers confidently take advantage of mobile shopping without lining the pockets of fraudsters.
The Bottom Line
The new “Amazon Loyalty Program” scam preys upon trusting consumers by faking exclusive perks and prizes for committed shoppers. But behind free gift offers and VIP status claims hide ulterior motives to steal identities, payment data, and money through recurring monthly billing without consent.
If exposed, contact your credit card company immediately, halt further payments from merchants, issue chargebacks against fees, and take preventative measures securing at-risk information. Learn to scrutinize unexpected reward offers more skeptically moving forward before readily handing over data. With proper awareness of common tricks, users can enjoy mobile shopping and browsing without subsidizing fraudster’s illicit profits.