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I recently received an email message with the subject "San Diego Site Leadership and Management Team sent you an Amazon Gift Card!", sent to my work address, apparently from "Amazon.com Gift Cards <gc-orders@gc.email.amazon.com>".

I was suspicious because there was no mention of my employer's name, just a generic message:

Please enjoy this $50.00 Amazon gift card to purchase
an item of your choice to kick-off Q4 and in recognition
of your hard work. We appreciate you!
#SDThePlaceToBe

It included a plausible looking "Claim Code" for the gift card. The code resembles "TIAT-UTAHBX-3V4T". (The actual code has the same pattern of uppercase letters and decimal digits.)

To be clear, I haven't clicked on any links in the email or tried to use the claim code, and I don't intend to.

I checked with my employer, who confirmed that they had not sent it, and with Amazon support, who confirmed that I had not been sent an email gift card.

So far, this sounds like an ordinary phishing attempt, which I would just report and ignore, but here's the strange part.

I've examined the headers and saw no suspicious links. There were several links within the email (none of which I clicked) that led to amazon.com URLs, plus sharing links at the bottom for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As far as I can tell, even if I fell for this phishing attempt, no information would get back to whoever sent it. The claim code is presumably invalid, but if I tried to redeem it I presume it would simply fail (that's according to Amazon support).

So my question is -- what's the point? Is this kind of phishing email without any dangerous links common? Is there any way the sender could benefit, or harm me, if I clicked on a link that goes to an amazon.com address?

I'm hesitant to share the entire message, but please let me know if more information would be helpful.

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    A lot of surveys use gift cards as "thank you" gifts for your participation. Perhaps it's from something like that? Unfortunately, this is the only hit I can find on the web for "San Diego Site Leadership and Management Team". You could traverse the email's Received headers to try to determine where this came from, but we can't help you with that unless you're comfortable pasting them here.
    – Adam Katz
    Oct 6 '20 at 19:35
  • @AdamKatz Amazon confirmed that nobody sent a gift card, and it definitely reads more like a reward from work than a survey. I'll add some of the headers later, but briefly the only domains I see in the "Received:" headers are amazonses.com, outlook.com, and office365.com. Oct 6 '20 at 22:01
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It turns out to be genuine.

The fact that my manager didn't know anything about it is odd (and I'll be following up on that). Some of the key phrases mentioned in the email matched phrases mentioned in a meeting today, which led me to try to redeem the card -- and it worked.

I mentioned that Amazon confirmed that nobody had sent me a gift card. I should have realized that wasn't meaningful, since the email only gave me a claim code and didn't refer to my Amazon account.

I'll also encourage the organization within the (rather large) company that sent the card to be clearer about where it's from, like mentioning the name of the company.

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