Amazon Reveals Hackers Infiltrated At Least 100 Seller Accounts

Published on May 8, 2019

It’s never not alarming when you see headlines that a company as big as Inc. (AMZN) Seattle has been hit by “extensive fraud.” The e-commerce giant confirmed on Wednesday that it had filed paperwork with the UK Government to obtain bank information connected to a group of hackers that, allegedly, siphoned money from at least 100 Amazon sellers into their own personal bank accounts. The company didn’t reveal the information willingly, as it came from court documents that were made public this week.

What Happened?

Amazon began investigating the potential that a group of hackers had compromised around 100 accounts between May and October of 2018. The company did not reveal whether or not the hack has the potential to compromise further accounts. As of Wednesday, Amazon claims it’s completed any investigation that it was doing into the incident. The company did take the issue seriously, though. A request to the UK Government revealed that Amazon requested to look over bank information for a group of Barclays and Prepay Technologies customers. The customers in question had, apparently, used their accounts to store money stolen from Amazon sellers.

The legal document that revealed all of this information was obtained by Bloomberg. Amazon may be one of the most widely used e-commerce platforms around the world. However, situations like these show the company is still susceptible to scams and fraud that compromises precious data and increases theft. Since the theft took place over the course of around six months, it may have taken sellers awhile to recognize that something was awry. Amazon believes that money was being funneled from these accounts through loans and sales and into UK bank accounts.

Should I Change My Amazon Password?

It’s up to you. This particular situation only targeted seller accounts and was stopped after around 100 accounts were compromised. With hundreds of millions of accounts in use regularly, odds are slim that you’ll be at-risk of having your information stolen or misused in something as small as this. However, a security breach like this does highlight that e-commerce platforms can be easily misused. Despite increasing security on websites like Amazon and other banking platforms, users are still at-risk if they’re not familiar with how to keep their information safe.

Amazon believes that this particular breach happened as a result of a “phishing” scam that took place sometime last year. The hackers harvested seller login information through a fake service or website that asked for the information (this is why the last Facebook breach was so alarming). Once they were able to get the information, they were free to login into the accounts and change the banking information to have all transactions sent into their own bank accounts.

Amazon hasn’t said how much money, exactly, was compromised. However, the company issued around $1 billion in loans to various sellers in 2018. The potential for the fraud situation to have compromised a lot of money is possible, and since the company took it so seriously it could mean that we’re talking more than just petty cash.

Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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