I got scammed on Amazon today.
Technically the scam happened about three weeks ago, when I bought a book from a seller called "Charles Elliot SW."
Maybe the name should have tipped me off. Or the book's low price. But I received a tracking number and notification that the item had shipped, so I didn't think anything of it until three weeks had passed with no sign of the package.
This morning I clicked on the seller's name and found the following:
I didn't know that fake tracking numbers were a thing. But sure enough, when I entered the number into the USPS site, I got an error message.
Things weren't looking good for my book.
I contacted Amazon through the site's chat feature, and within five minutes its customer service rep refunded my money. So at least I'm only out the time I waited for the book to arrive. But I'll definitely be more cautious when ordering from Amazon's third-party sellers.
According to Forbes, these fraudulent sellers bait consumers with popular items at low prices, then sell them with fake tracking numbers that show a longer-than-average shipping time. This way, they wait out Amazon's two-week payment cycle, pocket the money and either close the storefront or disappear before the consumer knows anything is amiss.
You can't even fully trust third-party sellers' customer reviews, because they occasionally run legitimate storefronts for a few months to build up a good reputation--or hack other sellers' accounts.
Smart racket, I guess. As for me, I drove to Barnes and Noble this afternoon and picked up a copy of the book I'd ordered three weeks ago and never received. I'd had enough of waiting. If brick-and-mortar stores excel at anything these days, it's instant gratification.