Fact Check

Amazon Book Order Cancellation Scam

Scam uses Amazon.com notifications of canceled book orders.

Published May 13, 2012

Claim:   Amazon.com is sending out notifications of canceled orders for non-existent books.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2012]

Dear Customer,

Your order has been successfully canceled. For your reference, here's a summary of your order:

You just canceled order 145-518-992 placed on May 3, 2012.



1 "Header"; 2006, Second Edition
  By: Deborah Mitchell

Sold by: Amazon.com LLC


Thank you for visiting Amazon.com!


Origins:   In May 2012 e-mails that seemingly originated with online retailer Amazon.com began appearing in inboxes. These missives were framed as confirmations of book order cancellations, with each offering embedded links (the order numbers) the curious could click upon to refresh their memories about the items being repudiated. In these e-mails, the books listed were all non-existent titles which consistently bore one-word titles, the authors never had middle names, and each book's edition (second, special or deluxe) was noted. The clickable order link was an 8- to 12-digit number segmented by two hyphens.

  • Connor Alien; "Ornamental"; 2002, Special Edition; order 191-527-38958

  • Myrddin Baker; "Aborts"; 2001, Special Edition; order 14-855-465

  • Lisa Doyle; "Unquestioned"; 2005, Deluxe Edition; order 146-418-53658

  • Andrew Duncan; "Novelty"; 2007, Deluxe Edition; order 16-228-648

  • Linda Edwards; "Persuaders"; 2007, Deluxe Edition; order 172-7886-84837

  • Michelle Gordon; "Thuban"; 2007, Second Edition; order 159-187-4459

  • Sliona Hill; "Vegetates"; 2003, Special Edition; order 19-219-21155

  • Deborah Mitchell; "Header"; 2006, Second Edition; order 145-518-992

  • Teresa O'Brian; "Recovery"; 2003, Deluxe Edition; order 11-7851-7126

  • Selwyn Ryan; "Therapists"; 2006, Special Edition; order 196-3498-71767

  • Elspeth Taylor; "Deceleration"; 2004, Second Edition; order 179-648-65176

  • Janet Thomas; "Practicing"; 2009, Second Edition; order 11-589-397

  • Emrys Turner; "Rifleman"; 2007, Second Edition; order 165-765-75442

  • Jamie Walker; "Exhortations"; 2002, Second Edition; order 198-3783-5319

  • Gwen Young; "Determination"; 2006, Special Edition; order 192-3996-821

Recipients whose curiosity inspired them to click the "order number" offered in the May 2012 scam were transported to Canadian pharmacy spam sites where they would hopefully be further inspired to place orders for pharmaceuticals not available without prescription in the U.S.

Says Amazon of the e-mails:

Unexpected E-mail from Amazon?
If you received an e-mail regarding the cancellation of an order with an 8-digit order number, the e-mail you received wasn't from Amazon.com. We recommend that you delete the e-mail. There's no need to report it to us.

The "canceled Amazon order" con was a reprise of a December 2010 scam in which the same e-mail enticed users via its proffered embedded link to a realistic Amazon login page on a hijacked business server. In that earlier version, those so duped were tricked into handing over their Amazon login information to the scammers running the con. A March 2010 con used a similar setup.

Recipients of e-mails that appear to originate with online entities they do business with should be wary about clicking links contained in these communications. All too often these e-mails weren't sent by the folks they appear to have come from but instead by fraud artists attempting to use masked links to lure the unwary to attack sites that are used to download malicious code and/or capture personal information, passwords and other financial details.

If you want to confirm a cancellation of an item ordered through Amazon:

  • Go to Amazon.com by typing www.amazon.com into your web browser. Don't click a link in the e-mail itself.
  • Click "Your Account" in the upper-right corner.
  • Visit "Your Orders" and see if an order matches the details for the one in the e-mail.

Last updated:   13 May 2012

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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