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Fraudulent Amazon Returns: What you need to know

By Last updated on: October 11, 2023

As an online seller, there is nothing more frustrating than fraudulent returns. On Amazon specifically, a buyer has precisely 30 days to return a product, but sometimes the buyer will get a refund before sending it back. This leaves the seller out of a sale and inventory. It’s no secret that Amazon’s return policy is way too lenient. They want to make the customer happy. 

What is a fraudulent return?

Fraudulent returns are a part of all Amazon seller’s daily responsibilities. It is up to every seller to protect themselves from fraud. Understanding all Amazon return policies and monitoring returns is essential. To begin with, Amazon typically does not want to get entangled among sellers and buyers. Fraudulent could be on purpose or as a complete accident. Vigilance will help sellers succeed; let’s discuss this in more detail.

What kind of Violations do Amazon sellers face with returns?

fraudulent returns
  • Empty box.
    • The buyer can use the prepaid labels and drop off the package to avoid a low weight being recorded. 
  • The product used then returned
    • Also known as “free renting” or “wardrobing.” 
  • Returning the box with something else inside.
    • The buyer fills the box with something of similar weight, so nothing is suspected. 
  • Entirely different products. 
    • Similar to the previous fraudulent returns, buyers can purchase a new model of a product from Amazon. However, they repackage and return an old model or an entirely different but similar product. 
  • Counterfeit or fake item.
    • The buyer receives a genuine product for free, but if you the seller, fight this, they can also declare that you sold a fake.
  • The damaged or incomplete items returned.
    • For example, say you sold a puzzle, and the buyer returns the puzzle with the box ripped or, WORSE, a missing puzzle piece. You are now not able to sell that product again! We’ve seen countless buyers accidentally bend or cut products as they open them and then make the damage look worse to cover up their mistake to claim that it was received like that.
  • Return never arrives back to an Amazon warehouse. 
    • Amazon can issue refunds before the seller receives the return. Buyers can take advantage of the refund and never send the item or forget to return it within 30 days!
  • The buyer chooses the wrong return reason. 
    • More often than not, buyers will find the easy way out when being asked the reason for a return. Simply marking “not as described” places the liability on the seller. This allows consumers to circumvent paying the return postage and creates another fraudulent return. 

What should sellers do when return fraud happens? 

Think about how you want to handle fraudulent returns. You can put resources into finding out what happened exactly, or you can cut your losses and move forward. If you do decide to investigate, here are some helpful tips: 

  • Start by checking the records of the transaction. 
  • Maintain a folder of return email notifications. 
  • Request Amazon reimbursement if not returned within 45 days. 
  • Contact the buyer personally; this helps guard seller feedback. 
  • Hold items returned for inspection. 
  • For FBA items, check the Seller Central account for the inventory. 
  • Check previous orders, and look for a history of buyer or address. 

What can sellers do in advance to protect themselves?

It is unlikely to reduce fraudulent returns to zero entirely, but there are ways you can reduce that volume and defend yourself when fraud occurs. Here are a few things to consider: 

  • Have evidence of what items have been sent out and returned. 
  • Use tracked and insured delivery services. 
  • Make it known you are prepared and willing to act. 
  • Communicate with the buyer. 
  •  Monitor your account and keep a close eye on performance metrics.

How can Refund Retriever Help with Fraudulent Returns?

You could suffer adverse consequences if you don’t do your part to stay on top of fraudulent returns. Refund Retriever manually checks the entire inventory lifecycle of all your FBA and vendor central products. In particular, this includes things like fraudulent returns! Therefore, to learn more about Amazon FBA refunds, click here

Brian Gibbs

Author Brian Gibbs

More posts by Brian Gibbs

Brian Gibbs | President of Refund Retriever

Brian Gibbs founded Refund Retriever in 2006 while running his first eBay-based business and seeing the shortcomings of other shipment auditing companies. Refund Retriever's primary focus is FedEx and UPS parcel invoice auditing. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 2001, he graduated from the University of Houston in 2004 with a JD and MBA. Gibbs has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and other publications discussing parcel auditing, shipping, e-commerce, and more. Learn more at or call (800) 441-8085 for more information.

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