It’s a usual weekday as I sip coffee while checking work mail—until my phone rings in the afternoon.

The call is from an unknown number that the Truecaller app doesn’t recognise. It’s from Amazon or so the woman on the other side claims.

My first reaction is “I don’t want any card or insurance”. She requests to be heard, introduces herself and then rattles off the last few purchases I made on Amazon in the past month. The details are correct.

The woman—speaking in Hindi when my chosen language on Amazon is English—says she is from the retail giant’s free gift department and has called to inform that I have been shortlisted for a reward. She gives me five options: a Dell 15-inch laptop, a 64GB iPhone 11, a Voltas air conditioner, an LG refrigerator and a Sony Bravia 33-inch television.

Sounds too good to be true. I decide to hang on to find out how this works.

I opt for an iPhone 11. She sends me an Amazon link on WhatsApp—for a 128GB iPhone, not 64 GB. The link, however, is genuine.

The deal she offers is this:

  • If I make a minimum purchase of Rs 5,000 on amazon.in, I will get an iPhone 11 handset free and a 40% cashback on Rs 5,000.
  • If I pay through a credit card, I will still get the iPhone free but the cashback will be 10-15%.

I decide to go with UPI.

She asks me to select and add the free product—iPhone 11—to cart; then merchandise worth Rs 5,000 for cashback, and share the screenshot.

Details of last three transactions on Amazon. (Photo: Sajeet Manghat/BloombergQuint)

Details of last three transactions on Amazon. (Photo: Sajeet Manghat/BloombergQuint)

The call is then transferred to a man, who identifies himself as a senior executive from Amazon. Speaking in Hindi, he advises me to use Amazon Pay. As I already have an Amazon Pay account, he asks me to send the money.

Why send money and not make a purchase like any other Amazon transaction? He says that’s because the money first has to be transferred to an Amazon account. This “senior Amazon executive” then messages me details of a bank account to be linked with Amazon Pay.

  • IFSC Code: PYTM0123456—a Paytm Payments Bank branch in Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.
  • Account number: 91834047497
  • Beneficiary: AMAZON IN

I want answers to a few more questions.

  • Why I am paying a Paytm account and not Amazon directly? He cites a tie-up between Paytm and Amazon (two competitors as partners—not convincing).
  • Is he an Amazon employee or from a third party working for the online retailer? He claims to be a genuine Amazon employee.
  • When I ask for details, he sends images of an Amazon ID card, PAN card and Aadhaar card on WhatsApp.

On Amazon Pay, he asks me to fill in the amount and mention ‘GIFT’ in the row below that reads ‘what is this for’.

Before paying, I ask for his email ID. He is reluctant, says that he isn’t allowed to share his email ID with customers. When I insist, he says it’s amazon+alphanumeric@gmail.com.

I ask why an Amazon employee doesn’t have an Amazon email ID? He knows his con is caught, hangs up and deletes images he shared with me.

While I sensed very early that there is something wrong, a couple of things are troubling. It’s easy to get phone numbers to contact people but how did this duo have details of my purchases on Amazon? That’s confidential data I haven’t shared with anyone, and Amazon isn’t allowed to reveal because it will be a breach of privacy laws.

And, why does Paytm Payments Bank have an account for “AMAZON IN”. Both the companies have yet to respond to emailed queries.

So, beware of scamsters pretending to play Santa.

Merry Christmas!



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