Beware your CCC alerts and "Just Launched" Amazon Merchants

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Zombie Storefronts are Real

AmazonFakeFronts make me Sad
Hi All,
Long time listener, first time caller (not really). If you like me use CCC to track prices you've likely noticed a huge uptick in 3rd Party new and Used items in your alerts. This isn't by chance. There is one or more "Storefront Scripts" floating around out there. This started last fall; but has gotten far more sophisticated and widespread. It's not in Amazon's interest to police it, as if you don't complain they get their transaction fee. It has gotten so bad the Business magazine Inc did a Full Article on it:
Inc Magazine said: Amazon Scammers Are Using This Trick to Make Millions
Beware of 'just launched' Amazon sellers -- or don't, if you trust the company more than its angry third-party merchants.

"In the beginning" all of the storefronts had the same products and prices; Cyberpower UPS, Ring Doorbell, NEST Products. The script must be out there somewhere, as it can be tailored now; there also looks to be a new script with some pricing automation; like undercut the lowest (not Just Launched) by 10% and mirror their store.

Amazon is a big Target; but it is frustrating to see dozens of Just Launched Sellers with the Nintendo Switch under MSRP two days out! I got bit twice; one looked like a legitimate sale; the other was me being a pain in Amazon's side and ordering hundred's of 1c products. Sadly here is the way #AtoZGurantee works; you are not guaranteed the product at any price; you are guaranteed a refund to your CC after an investigation, so many weeks after the last day of the shipping window (often 4-6weeks out to start with). Your CC charges when "THEY" ship, trust me it's like high speed trading; you'll get a fraudulent tracking number a few minutes later; as the tracking numbers are algorithmic they can be faked, and just show up as "not in system yet" basically; or they use a weird French/German/Italian or Chinese shipping company,

So after you pay $85 for that $115 UPS; you wait your 6 weeks; you flag it in your order history; then you generally have to call and talk to someone (not tooooo bad an experience); explain it's fake, you didn't receive it (note the store is usually still up at this point). They "launch" an investigation; then about 3-7 days (but up to 14) later they charge-back your CC. So you've been out that money at least one and likely two billing cycles.

The other new scams are:
1) brute-forcing old storefronts accounts to run the script on. So the stores may have 50+ good review but they were 12+ months ago, often if you look at seller comments they will be more than a few years old.
2) Verify purchasing from yourself with a few more fake accounts; and suddenly you have 5 vague 5 star reviews like the old eBay "A++++++++++ FAST!!! WOULD DO IT AGAIN".
3.1) Combine the two so it looks like the storefront reopened.

I got so frustrated when flagging them; that I eventually setup a twitter account: @amazonfakefront to try and draw attention to the problem. It is setup as a team account, so if any other Ancient/Decrepit/Old/1K members want in, I am happy to have help in shaming Amazon (PM Me).

Unless people make a fuss, and the Inc article will help, they have no incentive to do anything about it, unless 6 weeks later people realize they didn't get their $3 fidget device. Amazon still gets their market transaction price.

Sadly it's like twitter and the bot networks; I know some things are hard to tell with a computer; but if a twitter account launched March 2017; it's March 3rd, and they have 2500 follow/followers it's a bot network people. Particularly when most of that cohort is also new and cross-linked. But human brains work differently than AI at this point; though I would think time-stamps and rate limiting could ID some of that.

The same goes for Amazon and the fake storefronts; maybe they have seen the script, maybe not; but I am sure it is being iterated and forked often; as I mentioned it looks like it got some race-to-the-bottom price "sense" recently if my back-to-back-to-back CCC alerts are indicative. If anyone has seen the script; I don't care how/where you came across it (pastebin/tor/Zer0Net); it is of both InfoSec and historical importance (please PM me if you know where a version exists).

I have also personally corresponded with CCC; part of their slight downtime and slowness the last couple months was a DB upgrade/migration. They plan (possible as small subscription) to allow more tiers rather than Amazon/3rd/Used; they will almost definitely offer Used-PrimeShipping and 3rd-Prime; and they are looking at 3rd-new and 3rd-used with "Just Launched" elimination. How you weed out Zombie stores I'm not sure at this point.

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So many fakes, it's almost impossible. I would only buy 3rd party only if fulfilled by Amazon, so it's easy to ship back.

So far, I've bought from 4 merchants for new who were cheaper than 'prime'.

2 Were intl and fake, had to dispute / get refund
1 Amazon identified as a fake for me.
1 Turned to be coming from England. Got the product but took 2 extra weeks.

I will never buy from a 3rd party unless I know what state it is coming from.

forbin4040 said:   I will never buy from a 3rd party unless I know what state it is coming from.
A lot of them are using US states now too.. so that's no guarantee. I've seen a lot of "fake" stores in Utah.

err....From a state with High Ratings I mean.
the 4th case was a high rated merchant .... but from UK (And it didn't say that)

Not just "just launched" Amazon sellers. The latest scam is for hackers to break into 3rd party vendor Amazon accounts that haven't been used recently, then flood them with fake sale listings. That way, they hijack the vendor's positive feedback and the listings look more legitimate. Beware of vendors that don't have any positive feedback in the last 3 months or who only have feedback for products much different from what you are buying.

Amazon is aware of these scams and tries to shut down the hacked accounts, but they are slow (like several days).

same on eBay

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