Amazon Initially Sided With a Fraudulent Buyer, Letting Him Keep a Photographer's Camera and Refunding Him the Money

Amazon Initially Sided With a Fraudulent Buyer, Letting Him Keep a Photographer's Camera and Refunding Him the Money

An amateur photographer has revealed his experience of selling a camera through Amazon. Despite eventually resolving the matter, the company first sided with a fraudulent buyer, refunding the scammer the money and letting him keep the camera.

Cliff Redeker is an amateur photographer who has sold cameras through Amazon for a number of years as he’s changed models. In this particular case, he decided to buy and then resell a Sony a7R IV for a shoot, as rental fees were actually more expensive than seller fees. In what Redeker says was a “combination of social engineering and ambiguity,” Amazon ended up siding with the scammer to whom he sold the camera for a period time.

Upon listing the camera, Redeker says it was purchased by a buyer who Florida who was using only an initial for his surname, something in hindsight he says is a potential red flag. Days later, he received a notification from Amazon that the buyer had flagged that a “product purchased/packaging” was missing. He replied by sending through the photos he’d taken of the mint-condition camera, in its box, as evidence to dispute the scammer’s claim. Likewise, the buyer couldn’t provide any evidence to the contrary.

After Amazon initially sided with Redeker, a second claim on the same product was processed, with a “refund request initiated.” And here’s where the story is most intriguing. This time around, Amazon favored the buyer, despite the fact he shipped the camera (or, more likely, an empty box) back to the wrong address. As per their A-to-Z Guarantee, the buyer is, unbelievably, not responsible for sending the item back correctly. Redeker then found himself in the position where a fraudulent buyer had both his camera and the cash, yet wasn’t obligated to return the item and wasn’t being chased to prove the item was missing or damaged. Redeker also says Amazon refused acknowledgement of the 23 emails he sent them over the course of the handling of the incident.

It wasn’t until Redeker tweeted the Amazon support account that there was any development. They reviewed the case and eventually refunded him the money for his camera. He says he feels the resolution is fair, but that “equitable safeguards can be built to restore future buyer and seller confidence in the community.”

See Redeker's work at his website or Instagram.

This story was originally told to PetaPixel, retold with permission of Cliff Redeker.

Lead image by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash.

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Mike Nguyen's picture

That’s why I never sell on these large platforms, only buy.

Venson Stein's picture

It's ok for something like a $50 Helios lens. For large dollar items, I'm with you Bro. Way too dangerous.


This is where Amazon should have been sued for millions so they actually improve their handling instead of scamming thousands of people and then giving back the money to one or two that make the news.

jim hughes's picture

I won't sell on Amazon or Ebay anymore, due to bad experiences with flaky/scam buyers. The real problem with those companies is that in the event of a problem you can't get through to a human representative with the power to do anything. They're automated systems.

Thomas H's picture

This is an overreaction. The fact is that probably many users of these platforms have some percentage of negative experiences.
I had a case on Amazon with a lens, which the buyer suddenly at the threshold of 30 days after the purchase declared defective, than simply not fitting his Canon Rebel, than "not as described". And initiated the return process. Amazon said the 30-days unconditional right to return is valid for private sells as well, and so I replied to the buyer: Please return it with original box and in identical condition. But he did not. He started to ask for "shipping label" and "return authorization number." He wanted me to pay for his shipping. Than after another month of not shipping the lens back, he initiated another dispute... But this time Amazon's reps stepped in and sided with me. The case was closed without any negative review on my seller account.
It is aggravating, but its the nature of the beast: Once a great platform gets popular, it attracts all sorts of abusers, on both sides seller and buyer. Also the representatives processing the disputes are often in foreign country. In Amazon's case every name was Indian.
Still, what's the alternative? I have recently sold 7 items on eBay, without any issue (2 cameras and 5 lenses).

jim hughes's picture

I've sold cameras and lenses on ebay. Most of the sales went ok. A couple turned i to major hassles. Ebay "customer service" is nonexistent from what I hear. Now, I sell to a local camera shop for half the price with zero hassles.

Wade Walker's picture

Re:my experience below, I had several conversations with EBay including “senior management”. Complete lack of care and professionalism. Their only concern is the buyer. They couldn’t care less about the seller.

Erpillar Bendy's picture

"Amazon refused acknowledgement of the 23 emails he sent them over the course of the handling of the incident." Everything about this story speaks to their terrible service. Amazon earns fees for absolutely terrible service.

Bernie Bros's picture

To be clear, Amazon ate the loss here, they certainly didn’t go back to the buyer for a return of the refund they were issued.

super steel_'s picture

I would love to hear the buyers side and their pov, before coming to a hasty conclusion,.
sad the seller got amazon

tomu san's picture

Screw this guy for buying and returning a camera system knowing he was going to return it. People like this ruin things for others.

Tom Anderson's picture

Same thing happens on ebay every day. Too make the customer happy, they are willing to screw over sellers.

Wade Walker's picture

Exactly the same thing happened to me with EBay. I sold my contax Carl Zeiss 85 mm 1.2 for thousands, To a buyer outside of my declared shipping region, gave him a deal on shipping if I shipped on ground, then shipped it. Three weeks later, he filed a complaint and A refund request. Despite my providing ample evidence it had been shipped and it was on the way including a three-way conversation with Canada Post who told EBay they were crazy to think it could have magically appeared in Thailand in 20 days via ground, , Ebay refunded him the money after he received my lens. He cut off contact. They are now invoicing me for the cost of the lens. I have filed complaints with the FBI and the online crime database, and I have notified two major Canadian news companies. But nobody seems interested. This is fraud facilitated by eBay