There is nothing more exciting than opening a new console on launch day.
Unless, of course, yours is a cat litter bag. Or a George Foreman grill or dog food cans, or sheets, or fitness equipment, or a Himalayan salt lamp .
For me, it was an air fryer that was in my Amazon packaging, in place of the PS5 that I had ordered from Amazon months before.
On launch day Excited that my PS5 package finally arrived after an unexpected delay, I broke the record on my phone to capture its unpacking. But after giving the driver the special Amazon password to ensure secure delivery, I found out that I had received an appliance instead. The anticlimax was captured in the film .
I called Amazon immediately to inform customer service about my mysteriously replaced PS5. They said they would investigate and that I would hear from them within 24-48 hours. Perplexed, I tweeted the recording I made – and found that I was not alone.
“I woke up excited about my # ps5 being delivered …… go be going to bed having to create a crime report for the police because the delivery driver has 'lost' ”Said an answer. "I stopped by my address, but didn't deliver it, so Amazon claimed it was lost," said another . "It happened to me too. Marked as delivered with no sign of attempted delivery. Truly ridiculous," someone tweeted .
A pattern emerged quickly. Across the UK, the same thing was happening: the originally scheduled delivery of the PS5 was being "missed", marked as delivered when it hadn't been, or delayed until much later. When it arrived, the package would contain something – but it wouldn't be a next-generation console.
There were many stories of similar occurrences for this to be a coincidence. What was really happening here?
What follows is an investigation that took me from the confusion of Amazon's customer service to the potential of national organized crime. it in advance, like a DualSense connected to an unbranded kitchen appliance, still doesn't make sense.
From over 500 customers who answered a poll and that I posted on Twitter, 52% of people who lost their PS5 from Amazon never received anything, and 47% received a random item in its place like me.
This type of thing may be happening more often than we realize. Other Amazon customers contacted me to say that the same thing happened to them with other high-value items, like iPhones and hard drives . Typically, if an item goes missing, you expect the company to simply send you a replacement. But with the PS5 launch day, and out of stock, the problem – and perhaps the fraud – apparently happened en masse, and in a much more noticeable way.
I mentioned earlier that my delivery was unexpectedly delayed before the package arrived. For seven hours, my PS5 was gone. So, what happened to my console during that time and where could it be now? Shortly after sharing the video of my package being opened, someone tweeted something I hadn't considered.
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"@ AmazonUK doesn't use transparent plastic tape, so I suspect that [it] were opened, exchanged and resealed in transit," replied Twitter user Alex Haines. Running for other Amazon packages that I had, the difference was stark. The familiar black ribbon reinforced with the 'Prime' brand was on all of them. But it wasn't what my PS5 delivery was supposed to be.
Other people noticed the same thing. Sam Felts told me: “I realized that the tape was transparent, it was not a normal Amazon tape, and there was also a layer of tape under the one I opened that was already cut.”
Twitter users started speculating that this was evidence that the boxes were tampered with. They theorized that our PS5s were being unpacked by someone in the supply chain, stolen and replaced with random items.
With an RRP of £ 449 in the UK, the PS5 is clearly a high value item. But, given the demand and lack of stock anywhere, consoles are selling for more than more than double on eBay now. Was my PS5 stolen by someone from Amazon's logistics chain and sold for an exorbitant price in the gray market? I browsed eBay's listings, wondering if I was going through my own console. Despite the fact that those who pre-ordered months ago didn't even get their PS5, some sellers bought quite a bit. It seems entirely possible that if our consoles ordered by Amazon were stolen, they could easily be being sold.
The Method for Madness
The motivation seems quite clear, but as the exchanges were taking place it is less obvious. The general assumption of many online victims was that it was an inside job. But where, along Amazon's supply chain, could this be realistically occurring?
Some employees speculated that Amazon warehouse employees could pick up consoles and exchange content before delivery (or never deliver). However, a former Amazon employee, who worked as a security guard at an Amazon Fulfillment Center, anonymously told me that security measures at the warehouse were so strict that an employee simply cannot steal a PS5-sized item for  "The packaging in the warehouse is fully covered by line and CCTV managers," the source told me. “All warehouse personnel go through security checkpoints to leave the warehouse, and everyone, including management, is required to go through a turnstile with a random number generator search function. One in ten people is selected and, if they are, they must undergo a metal detector and empty their pockets.
"I once caught a guy trying to get out with a Micro SD card," said the source at Amazon's warehouse. , "No way could anyone take a PS5 that way."
My source, that too worked at Amazon for the launch of Grand Theft Auto 5, told me that the company even brought extra security for the long-awaited game launch: “The HGV that brought the games to the warehouse had an escort and there were extra cameras covering the pallets of games Although it is more difficult for the team to come out with a console than a game, I assume they would also take extra precautions with a high level item. "
If the deposit is armored, what about Amazon's delivery drivers? Many Amazon customers who did not receive their PS5 reported that delivery drivers parked outside the home, but never delivered the item. I asked an Amazon driver contact – who also asked to remain anonymous – about what this could mean. Does a driver need to reach an address to mark a package as delivered, even if it is not?
"Yes, the driver needs to be close to the address to mark them arriving and delivering the item", they told me. “Amazon automatically sends notifications to the recipient. For example, & # 39; The package is 6 stops away & # 39; or & # 39; The package has been delivered & # 39 ;. My guess is that the application is pinging the Amazon server with the information to send to the client, ”adds the source.
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Almost all of the stories of lost PS5s from Amazon feature this detail – a driver being located in close proximity to the address, at the scheduled delivery time, but the package is not being delivered. Some even recorded videos of clashes during this event. And some drivers have already been fired for that.
However, this could be a much more organized effort than just rogue drivers. Another anonymous source, who worked as a courier for a delivery company not affiliated with Amazon, told me about a scam they saw earlier that they suspected might be at stake here again.
“I will assume this problem is the result of drivers being bribed,” they told me, “our courier company had a contract with Apple to deliver iPads and iPhones. After a while, one of our delivery drivers was approached outside our warehouse and offered money in exchange for iPads. ”
“ It was a national network of criminals, working with several delivery companies and, for a while, they seemed to be very successful, ”The source tells me.
This is how the scam worked: drivers received an offer to pay for deliveries and were received on the road, somewhere along the way, where there was an exchange of packages and the real packages and of high value were donated.
So, could the exchange of PS5s for other items be the work of a criminal organization and not an underpaid employee? Considering the spread of affected people (we saw reports from up and down in the UK), the similarities in the cases and even reports of similar scams that reached the USA and beyond, it suddenly seemed plausible.
I took this back to my Amazon driver source to get their opinion. “I didn't see any behavior like that and, as a delivery partner, it is foolish to even try it”, they told me: “Everything you do, from the route you take to packages and returns is tracked by an application. If you do not return the package, you will likely be booked and will miss the opportunity to work with Amazon again. ”
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Although they added:“ There is, however, nothing to prevent gangs from waiting for delivery partners outside warehouses, or on routes, and theft of packages from their vehicles – and frankly nothing to protect you, as a delivery partner, if that happens, except call the police and alert support to the driver. ”
At this point in my investigation, I must disappoint you with the news that you have not infiltrated the theoretical gang in question. But it got wilder than I ever thought about going in. Wildest of all, the gang theory seems … credible. I cannot say with certainty that this crime has occurred. But I know that these hundreds of cases seem too uniform in their systematic approach to be a total coincidence. But, of course, I can't prove anything, because nobody – especially Amazon – is giving real answers to that question.
The reserved 48 hours of my first complaint to Amazon about the wrong air the fryer came and went and I had not heard anything from the company as promised. Many others have said the same – on November 23, four days since the launch of PS5 in the UK and two days since Amazon's 48-hour investigation window should have closed, 63% of people missing the delivery of the Amazon PS5 on the day of launch told me in a poll on Twitter that they still did not have a confirmed refund, much less received the console they had ordered.
I called Amazon again. After our joint hours of detective work, it was time to compare notes.
"I don't see if there has been an update on this yet," said Amazon's customer service representative, when I asked them the results of their investigation.
“Oh,” I said to them, “They told me when we talked a few days ago that Amazon was opening an investigation into what had happened?”
"I see that the information was sent to make an investigation, but I am not seeing any updates on the investigation", clarified the customer service agent.
I had seen other Twitter users discuss compensation offered to them, with some even being offered up to £ 150 in addition to the refund. With Amazon's investigation seemingly less fruitful than mine, I asked about it too.
The amount of pre-order compensation I set up with Amazon months ago, every hours lost with my PS5 and now, with no stock left, no option to buy another one? £ 5. Specifically, a £ 5 voucher from Amazon. A nicer version of myself would have told Jeff Bezos where to put it. But, to be fair, it cost 5 pounds.
Somehow, I should probably consider myself lucky – some delivery failure victims did not receive this offer. Some had not even received a refund offer for the lost item when I spoke to them.
So here I am, without PS5 (or even an air fryer – Amazon collected), potentially even the victim of a gang across the country, and with £ 5 in Amazon credit in my name.
On Twitter, other victims deplored the situation. People were being refunded against their will – we didn't want refunds or or even generous £ 5 vouchers, if you can believe it. In fact, Amazon's wildly random approach to these vouchers, ranging from £ 5 to £ 150, has just made the whole case more chaotic. What we wanted was a PS5 – or priority access for the next batch of upcoming PS5s.
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“I'm furious with everything to be honest”, Paul Longworth says me, another Amazon customer whose PS5 pre-order never arrived, “I don't want a refund, I want a guarantee on a unit of the next batch of stock … Now I feel like I was closed because they issued me a refund without my consent. ”
When I asked Amazon about how they were helping customers, an Amazon spokesman said:
“ Our goal is to make our customers happy, and it didn't happen for a small proportion of those orders. We are very sorry for this and we are investigating exactly what happened. We are contacting each customer who had a problem and alerted us so that we can fix it. Anyone who has had a problem with any order can contact our customer service team for assistance. ”
Sony was contacted to comment on this article as well, but did not respond.
Apparently without research work done or specific answers provided by Amazon, it seems that this potential scam is disappearing. Amazon hasn't yet talked about why this happened, or discussed the idea of something unpleasant happening on their side. In fact, as Longworth told me, the refund on his non-existent PS5 was labeled a "customer return". "It adds insult to injury," he tells me. ”
When Amazon sent me instructions to return my unwanted air fryer, the email even called it PS5. My eye twitched.
This leaves us customers without PS5 and without pre-order in the middle of madness, as perplexed and upset as when we saw our cat food or foot massagers. To be fair, at least I learned that there are plenty of air fryers, if playing with low-fat chip recipes on vacation is your idea of fun.
So, I received a new email from Amazon – apparently a general one, sent to everyone affected. It said, “We know how excited you were about your new PlayStation 5 order and we're sorry that you didn't receive your item. We continue to investigate why the item was not delivered to you. ”Before mentioning that a £ 10 (non-refundable) credit was being added to our Amazon accounts.
So, maybe Amazon is still investigating … or just watching Twitter's detective work. I will continue to investigate how it happened – because the disappointment for those affected is not just that it happened, but that, after all this time and searching, we do not know exactly why .
If you have more information about the lost PS5s or any information about how they may have been stolen, please contact IGN's Newstips email address – newstips @ ign. with . Y You will be kept anonymous in any subsequent reports.
Bex April May is a freelance journalist. You can follow her (and get updates on the mystery) on Twitter .