My Amazon Payments Account Has Been Shut Down…

Amazon Payments Account Shut Down

After using Amazon Payments to “spend” $1,000 a month for the last 2+ years, it seems like the jig is finally up for one of my accounts.

Last week, as I have done for the last 12 months, I set into motion my normal Amazon Payments chain where I send $1,000 to my brother, my brother sends $1,000 to my cousin, and my cousin sends $1,000 back to me.

To maximize Amazon Payments,  I have also created accounts for my parents. I would love to use their accounts in our triangle but you can’t withdraw money to a bank account that isn’t associated with the Amazon Payments user. In other words, I can’t have someone send money to my parents account and then withdraw that money to my personal bank account, as the money would have to be withdrawn to my parent’s bank account.

To get around this, I typically only use my parents Amazon accounts to send money to my friends who then either use Venmo or Chase Quick Pay to send the money back to my bank account.

In total, these 2 strategies allow me to spend around $4,000 a month for free!

The Mistake I Made

This past month, to complete my brother’s $1,000 minimum spend on the his Alaska Card (which would get him a $100 statement credit. Direct link to offer is here), I used my dad’s Amazon Account and added my brother’s Alaska Card under my dad’s name.

Typically, the payments go thru instantly but this time it kept saying “pending” which was weird.

At first I thought maybe Bank of America had flagged the purchase as fraud because it was a fairly large purchase but in 24 hours I got an email from Amazon Payments saying the following…

Shut Down

Shut Down

Honestly I am not surprised that this happened because it costs Amazon quite a lot of money to eat the credit card transaction fees and I literally know no one who uses Amazon Payments for anything but manufactured spend…

Google Wallet last year offered free credit card processing and I got $500 through before Google promptly stopped offering that feature for free after 3 days. Amazon has been offering this for at least 2+ years now, maybe even longer….

The Fatal Flaw

Anyways after doing some research, I think I figured out why my dad’s account was shut down.

Via this post on Dan’s Deals, not surprisingly Amazon more than likely tracks IP addresses. I manage all my family’s accounts, so when I run my manufactured spend cycle every month, it is all done in rapid succession and all from my laptop.

More than likely, Amazon has some automated flagging algorithm that looks for transactions between different accounts that are coming from the same IP.

While you could certainly use TOR or another proxy to mask your IP, the issue is that if your computer’s IP shows up on Amazon coming in from another country, then they really might get suspicious and think you are using Amazon Payments to internationally money launder…

Since my brother’s Alaska transaction didn’t go through, against the potential risk of getting his Amazon Payments account shut down, we again tried to use his Alaska card but this time we used his account to send me $1,000 (broken into 2 odd payments). This time, both transactions went through instantly without issues, even though it was the same card that got flagged last time…

Going Forward

The best suggestion and what I plan on doing going forward, is to designate each Amazon Payment account to a single computer, tablet, or phone.

So I only access my Amazon Payment account from my computer, my mom’s account from my iPad, and make my brother use his account from his own computer.

Additionally, I suggest using odd transaction accounts like 2 payments of $544.45 and $455.55 or even one payment of $890.34. While it is great to manufacture $1,000 a month in fake spend, it might be better to only do something like $965 and fly under the radar. Your mileage may vary…

This “new system” I’m going to use certainly isn’t foolproof and Amazon could catch on pretty easily but I figure I might as well attempt to continue to generate around 1,000 points a month for free until free credit card processing on Amazon Payments is shut down for good.

Recap

Like with all manufactured spend techniques, it is all really just a game of musical chairs.

You keep playing knowing that the music might stop at any time…

While it sucks that my dad’s account was closed, I still have 3 other accounts so I am not too worried.

Going forward I will make sure to try and “fly under the radar” and not use the same Amazon Payment accounts connected to the same computers.

-Parag


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Free TripIt Pro With Barclays Arrival Card

Free TripIt Pro With Barclays Arrival Card

I was just paying my Barclays Arrival Plus bill and noticed that they offer a free upgrade to TripIt Pro ($50 value) to cardholders.

A full list of TripIt Pro features can be found here but certainly the Hertz #1 Club Gold status stands out.

"TripIt Pro"

“TripIt Pro”

If you aren’t familiar with TripIt, basically once you sign up for their free service, you can forward all your travel confirmation emails (flights, hotels, cars, etc) to TripIt and they will automatically  compile them into one centralized itinerary. Typically email confirmations from United, Expedia, Hyatt, etc all get lost in my email inbox, so whenever something comes in, I always automatically forward it to TripIt so I don’t lose it.

While the centralized itinerary feature is great, the reason I really love TripIt is that it also tracks how many miles, countries, and cities I have been to. My below TripIt stats date back to 2010.

"My 2014 so far"

“My 2014 so far”

Just for this feature alone, I’d suggest signing up for TripIt.

Recap

While I am not sure if I’d ever pay for TripIt Pro out of pocket, since I use the free version of TripIt fairly often, I certainly will take advantage of this free upgrade offer and see how much extra value TripIt Pro offers.

-Parag


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