A new scam is seemingly making its way around Amazon, and it is targeting people who are selling and purchasing an unlocked iPhone 6S. According to a number of 1-star reviewers, the seller of the iPhone 6S units have shipped them a box filled not with the smartphone, but with clay, or other similar fraudulent materials.
The claims by the buyers seem very legitimate, with most of the reviewers even providing photo evidence of iPhone 6S boxes filled with clay. According to the buyers, the seller is able to get away with the scam simply because UPS or FedEx only records the device's weight when shipping an item from an Amazon seller. Thus, it is very easy to fill the box with a similarly-weighted material and ship it instead of the iPhone 6S.
Sounds like a nightmare scenario, right? Considering that the buyers dished out almost $1,000 for the unlocked device, it would definitely seem like there is a very grave conspiracy going on with the sellers of the smartphone.
However, this blatant and bold scam might not be what it seems. Domo software engineer Cory Klein, whose attention was caught by the slew of 1-star reviews on the product's page, did some investigating, and came up with a rather interesting theory.
In a blog post, Klein explained the discrepancies that seem to be found in the 1-star reviews from the iPhone 6S' buyers. After all, Klein believes that it is highly unlikely for a scam such as this to escape Amazon's watchful eye for a long time. Thus, the reviewers' claims, some dating back months, seem a little bit suspicious.
Couple with with the fact that Amazon's A-Z guarantee is heavily skewed towards buyers, and a scam does emerge. Contrary to what was initially alleged, however, the scam seems to be originating not from the seller, but from the buyers themselves.
"Amazon has very strong buyer protection policies that means that sellers can't just walk away with the money. So why would a seller keep trying this strategy such that this many reviews got posted? That's when it clicked: there are no seller scammers here - it's the buyers that are the scammers," Klein wrote.
The software engineer believes that there is a rather simple process in the con being utilized. According to Klein, the scam starts off with the scammer creating a new Amazon account. After this, the buyer simply purchases an iPhone 6S from the seller, but upon receiving the package, the buyer swaps out the phone for clay, or any other material. Once the swap is done, the scammer then takes photographs of the clay-filled iPhone 6S box and files a claim with Amazon.
Overall, this particular con carries very little risk for the scammers. With Amazon's buyer-centric system and with the possibility of having their money fully refunded, it would seem like more and more of these fraudsters are beginning to get on the bandwagon.
"If they win 1 in 10 claims, they pocket $1k. For the remaining 9 claims, they can just resell the phone themselves and the only costs they incur are shipping, which is more than covered by the free iPhones they get," Klein wrote.