I was looking to buy a new camera, and found one I wanted on Amazon at half the price of the others. A deal, a real deal. I should have known right then that it was too good to be true. The camera was offered for sale by a third party seller, and the man had a note to contact him at his email address if we had any questions.
So I wrote him and asked if the camera was new, not used, and USA registered, not a grey market camera. His answer was positive on all counts–a verifiable new, still in the box, not gray market Nikon professional camera. If I would just send him my address and phone number, he’d finish the deal. I tried to check out through Amazon, but for some reason my address wouldn’t let me proceed, so I just shrugged it off and figured the guy would call me.
He never did, but first thing this morning he sent an email saying that Amazon had tried twice to contact me about my order. I checked my inbox, my spam folder, and my trash folder for all of my many email accounts. No email. So I suggested that maybe they were sending to the wrong email, so I gave him the one I use for Amazon.com. (Dumb, dumb, dumb). And the email showed up in my inbox a moment later.
The email looked to be from Amazon, and it had links to my account, my recommendations, and the camera I was trying to order–and all the links worked. The email said that this seller would not accept Paypal or a gift card, but only a Western Union money transfer. So I should go to my nearest western union office, and they even had a link for me to find the nearest western union office.
So I went to my bank to see if they would do a money transfer through Western Union, and while I cashed a check for the full amount, the cashier said the deal sounded fishy. She said I’d have no recourse if I sent a money transfer and then the camera never showed up. This dampened my thirst for the bargain camera considerably, and before going on to the Western Union office, I went back home to contact Amazon customer service.
Sure enough, they said the email was a fake and that they NEVER advised customers to do a Western Union transfer. And that the seller had broken a handful of their rules, and they would launch an investigation. And that I should send them a copy of the email I received so they could track things down . . .
I felt foolish, then grateful for the bank teller who had opened my eyes. When I told the story to my daughter, she nearly died with shock. “You’re the naive old lady who went to the bank to withdraw cash!” she shrieked, and I realized she was right. How could I have been so blind?
So I gave up on the bargain camera and bought one at regular price from a vendor I trust. I didn’t buy the big, fancy one (because really, I can’t afford it), but at least I know I’ll be able to sleep tonight. The Lord and his angels were looking out for me, and I think I ought to send that bank teller some flowers. 🙂
I’ve changed my Amazon email and password, but I still feel like a big dope. And I’m writing about my experience on this blog so you will realize how easy it is to be fooled. NEVER do what a seller advises you to do if it is not the company’s usual way of operating. Never click on a link in a suspicious email. And always follow through if you have doubts.
Better to feel foolish than to be very, very sorry. Don’t give crooks the key to your computer.