Beware the Amazon Australia gift voucher scam email

Angus Kidman 20 February 2017

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Amazon may well be coming, but this "gift voucher giveaway" really is fake news.

We should have seen this coming: scammers are using the rumoured expansion of Amazon in Australia as the bait in an email that falsely claims the company is giving away $500 gift vouchers to customers.

As I've noted several times, while there is quite a bit of evidence to suggest Amazon will expand its offerings to Australians this year, the company has not yet made any kind of official announcement to that effect. But a scammer is not going to be worried by that. The fact that rumours are doing the rounds is enough to make a scam that taps into them potentially fertile ground.

AmazonFakeEmail

"The expansion of Amazon into Australia is fast approaching," the email begins. "We will soon begin operating brick and mortar distribution and retail centers in all states across Australia." I suspect that if Amazon does want to communicate with Australian customers, it will know to use the Australian spelling of "centre", not the US one. That's an immediate flag that this is a scam.

"Of course, Aussie consumers are no strangers to Amazon. In the past few years we have built strong relationship with you and we are here to say thank you! In order to express our gratitude towards Aussie consumers, we are coming to you with a $500 Amazon Voucher." Again, an official email is unlikely to include a phrase as ungrammatical as "we have built strong relationship with you".

But the real giveaway is the link you're asked to click to confirm the voucher. This is an address that's not remotely connected to Amazon. If you foolishly click on it, you'll go through a spurious survey about Amazon's plans, replete with more grammatical errors in sentences like "Amazon sells (almost) anything what you can think of and entirely false claims such as an across-the-board 30% discount. If you complete that, you're diverted to a spammy site full of further surveys that aims to harvest your details.

The short version? If this email makes it through your spam filter, delete it. Amazon doesn't need to start giving away vouchers to get noticed. A recent Neilsen study suggests that 75% of Australians are aware of Amazon, and 56% would buy from an Australian site. The chart below shows which categories Aussies are most interested in:

That matches up fairly closely with the most popular categories in Australian retail. The Amazon wars will be real, but the email is a big fat fake.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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