Lightning strikes three times

By Alex P. Vidal

“I’m scammed almost every day. Or, if not scammed, at the very least someone tries to scam me. Usually more than once a day.”— James Altucher

WELLS Fargo and Discover have alerted me this past week that they have monitored some unauthorized transactions using my cards from these reputable bank and credit institutions based in the United States.

It all started when Discover first sent me an “urgent” alert on October 26, 2023 that there was an “activity on your account” about a purchase in Cleavitz, which offers a patented half-top design that greatly expands the range and versatility of women’s wardrobes.

And on October 31, 2023, I again received the following email from Discover:

“ALEX VIDAL, please call Discover at 1-866-240-7938. Since unrecognized transaction(s) on your account were identified as possible fraud, please call 1-866-240-7938 immediately to speak with a dedicated Fraud Specialist so we can help resolve this issue as soon as possible. Remember, you’re never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.”

And on November 7, 2023, I received a “Payment Card Fraud Alert” from Wells Fargo Fraud Detection that stated:

“We detected some unusual activity on your Wells Fargo Credit Card ending in XXXX.

Action required: Please review recent card activity

Please review these transactions and respond as soon as possible. If we don’t hear back from you, future transactions may be declined.

I was asked if I recognized the three transactions from Piangdin, Bangkok, Thailand on November 6, 2023; and two transactions from Pagrafael, Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 7, 2023 using my Wells Fargo credit card.

I am confident all these fraudulent transactions have been “declined” and Wells Fargo and Discover have informed me they have issued new cards to replace the ones they have canceled.


Four days before the Thanksgiving 2023, it was Amazon’s turn to warn me:

“During this time of year, we often see a surge in impersonation scams. Stay safe by learning to identify and avoid them.

“In impersonation scams, a scammer reaches out to you pretending to be someone you trust to get sensitive information like social security numbers, bank information, or Amazon account details. Scammers change tactics quickly making them hard to detect.

“Scam Trend: Email attachment scams

“Scammers send emails posing as Amazon and include pdf attachments stating that your account will be suspended or on hold.

“These attachments prompt you to click on a fraudulent link to “update your account.” These links lure you to provide personal information such as payment information or account login credentials.

“Please do not click on any links or provide your information without authenticating the email or verifying the link. Visit the Message Center which displays a log of authentic communications sent from Amazon.

Prime membership scams

“These are unexpected calls/texts/emails that refer to a costly membership fee or an issue with your membership and ask you to confirm or cancel the charge. These scammers try to convince you to provide payment or bank account information in order to reinstate a membership.

“Amazon will never ask you to provide payment information for products or services over the phone. To verify your Prime Membership status or make payments, log into your Amazon account, and go to Your Account.”


Here are some important tips to identify scams and keep account and information safe, according Amazon’s email:

  1. Trust Amazon-owned channels.

Always go through the Amazon mobile app or website when seeking customer service, tech support, or when looking to make changes to your account.

  1. Be wary of false urgency.

Scammers may try to create a sense of urgency to persuade you to do what they’re asking. Be wary any time someone tries to convince you that you must act now.

  1. Never pay over the phone.

Amazon will never ask you to provide payment information, including gift cards (or “verification cards,” as some scammers call them) for products or services over the phone.

  1. Verify links first.

Review the link for misspellings or repeated characters. Legitimate Amazon websites contain “” or “” Go directly to our website when seeking help with Amazon devices/services, orders or to make changes to your account.

  1. Verify email senders.

Legitimate Amazon emails contain “”. In your web browser, hover over the display name under “From” to see full sender address. Look for misspellings or added or substituted characters. Visit the Message Center to view authentic messages from Amazon.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)


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