More than a million households in the UK may have fallen victim to a « brushing » scam after receiving mysterious Amazon packages designed to boost the ratings of third-party sellers.
group onsumer which one? She said she was concerned about the number of families who reported receiving a mysterious Amazon package at their home address that had not been requested and had not been sent by a known person.
The watchdog believes that third-party sellers are taking advantage of Amazon’s highly competitive search ranking system for products – which favors items with high sales volumes and good reviews – by sending items to unsuspecting people and then falsely recording them as a genuine purchase.
Homeowners reported receiving items such as magnetic eyelashes, eyelash serum, pet and kids toys, bluetooth accessories, iPhone case, Frisbee plate, medical gloves and other cheap items for bulk shipping.
Some sellers take the scam a step further by creating a fake Amazon account linked to the recipient’s address to « purchase » the item themselves and then leaving a positive fake review.
Which? She said she’s heard from victims who have been inundated with items, from cheap electronics to beauty products, that they know nothing of showing up at their doors.
The scam raised question marks about how their personal details were found as well as the environmental impact of the unwanted items.
A survey of nearly 2,000 people conducted by the watchdog found that 4% of respondents – or, nationally, an estimated 1.1 million people – said they or someone in their household had received such a package.
Among respondents who received a mysterious package, 63 percent said they kept it, 28 percent got rid of it, and 16 percent gave it up.
Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy Rocio Concha said: “Consumers need to be able to trust that the popularity and reviews of products they buy online are authentic, so it is concerning that third-party sellers appear to be using brushing scams in the Amazon Marketplace game.
« Amazon needs to do more to thoroughly investigate cases of brush fraud and take strong action against sellers trying to mislead consumers. »
“Regulated by bad actors who buy names and addresses from various outside sources,” Amazon said, “Brushing your teeth” is a scheme that affects all online marketplaces.
“We estimate that less than 0.001pc of Amazon orders are affected by the brush because Amazon has robust processes in place to prevent abuse from affecting our reviews, search rankings, and other customer experiences.
“We will never stop improving the level of abuse prevention in our store, and we will continue to take appropriate enforcement action, including supporting law enforcement organizations in their efforts to hold bad actors accountable. We strongly encourage those who have received unsolicited packages to report them to our customer service team so we can to fully investigate and take appropriate action.”
What to do if you are involved in an Amazon brushing scam:
Report the incident to the Amazon customer service team.
The advice on Amazon is to donate or dispose of the item you received.
– If you decide to keep or donate the item, you should be careful because which one? Previously found safety and security issues with some cheap electronics purchased from Amazon Marketplace.
Which? The survey included 1,839 adults in the UK between August 13 and 17.
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