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Exclusive: Amazon exec discusses how company is fighting online fraud

Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon VP of Selling Partner Services

Amazon has advice for e-commerce retailers seeking to prevent and mediate cybercrime, based on its own successes.

Dharmesh Mehta, VP of Selling Partner Services, Amazon, recently discussed the serious issues online retailers face from scams and fraud perpetrated by bad actors. He also offered guidance on how retailers can effectively combat this widespread problem, using Amazon’s own experiences and techniques as guidance.

How much of a problem is there with cybercriminals impersonating Amazon?
Amazon impersonation scams put consumers at risk, and while these happen outside our stores, we will continue to invest in protecting them. We have a team of more than 12,000 people globally, including machine learning scientists, software developers, and expert investigators, dedicated to protecting our store and our customers from fraud and other forms of abuse.

So far this year, we have initiated takedowns of more than 20,000 phishing websites and 10,000 phone numbers being used as part of impersonation schemes. We also have referred more than 100 bad actors across the globe to local law enforcement authorities, and we will continue to support their efforts in ensuring these scammers are held accountable.

[Read more: Amazon spent over $900 million to stop brand fraud in 2021]

What are some common online fraud schemes seen during the holidays?
Scammers are targeting consumers with fake orders for purchases they didn’t make, pretending to be Amazon. We found that fake order confirmations accounted for more than 50% of Amazon impersonation scams, as reported by our customers this year.

These unsolicited communications often refer to a purchase that the customer didn’t make and ask them to act urgently to confirm the purchase. When a customer tries to cancel the fake order by clicking a link or calling the supposed “customer service” number, scammers then try to steal their personal or financial information.

How can online retailers protect their customers?
In the case of Amazon, we are diligently working to help educate consumers to avoid scams, ensure consumers know it’s us, and ensure scammers are held accountable. We realize this is an industry-wide issue and we are eager to partner with and learn from other retailers who share our objectives in protecting consumers from scams.

Earlier this year, Amazon adopted email verification technology across more than 20 countries to make it easier for customers to identify phishing emails and harder for scammers to commit fraud. Customers using common email providers can be confident that when they receive an email with the smile logo in their inbox, that email is really from us.

Amazon is also holding scammers accountable by not only preventing scams before they start, but also quickly identifying and shutting them down, and working with law enforcement to pursue justice for victims. We will continue to support law enforcement efforts in ensuring these scammers are held accountable.

[Read more: Amazon disrupts counterfeit operations in China]

What signs should retailers look for in a fraud scheme involving their site/brand?
Many scams don’t just take advantage of the brand that is being impersonated. The scammer has broken through additional trusted service providers to execute their scam such as telecom companies, financial institutions and payment apps. Many trusted entities have been violated in the wake of scammers’ crimes.

Scams today are complex and bad actors use many methods when attempting to scam consumers. For example, scammers may send emails with links to an IP address that includes a string of numbers. If the link takes you to a site that is not a legitimate Amazon domain, then it is likely phishing.

One of the most effective ways we protect customers is holding these bad actors accountable. Amazon utilizes a variety of investigative resources to identify and take legal action against scammers around the world.

In addition to filing lawsuits against scammers, Amazon routinely takes action to shutdown critical infrastructure used in these scams, working with telecom companies and financial institutions to shut down criminal networks. We will continue to aggressively pursue these bad actors when they contact customers and stop scams before they happen.

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