Crooks send free ‘gifts’ in Amazon con: Criminals mail out items for gratis to random homes… and then create fake sales with bogus reviews, consumer group finds
- Criminals are sending out free products through Amazon to homes in new scam
- ‘Brushing’ con creates fake sales, which creates flood of fake positive reviews
- Consumer group Which? estimates over a million UK homes have been targeted
Criminals are sending out free products through Amazon to homes in a new scam.
The ‘brushing’ con by crooked Amazon sellers creates fake sales which are followed by a flood of bogus positive reviews.
Consumer group Which? estimates over a million homes in the UK may have been targeted.
‘Brushing’ pushes products to the top of review charts on Amazon, which can generate massive sales. People across the UK are getting free items from cheap electronics to beauty products.
Criminals are sending out free products through Amazon to homes in a new scam. The ‘brushing’ con by crooked Amazon sellers creates fake sales which are followed by a flood of bogus positive reviews (Stock image)
Teresa Martin, 67, of Swindon, Wiltshire, received 50 mystery parcels, including a karaoke microphone and a glass teapot. She said the US web giant told her to keep the items.
Rocio Concha Galguera of Which?, called the scam ‘troubling’. Amazon said: ‘Brushing is a scheme affecting all online marketplaces.’
It urged people to report ‘unsolicited packages’ to customer services ‘so we can investigate fully and take the appropriate actions’.
A Which? survey found six in ten people who received a mystery item kept it, while other gave them away or threw them out.
The consumer champion said information from internet sales experts in China suggests manufacturers view the expense of setting up ‘brushing’ schemes was just one of the costs of doing business, like a form of marketing.
Director of Policy and Advocacy at Which?, Rocio Concha, said: ‘Consumers should be able to trust that the popularity and reviews of products they are buying online are genuine, so it is troubling that third-party sellers appear to be using brushing scams to game Amazon Marketplace.
‘Amazon needs to do more to thoroughly investigate instances of brushing scams and take strong action against sellers that are attempting to mislead consumers.’
The company said: ‘Orchestrated by bad actors who procure names and addresses from various external sources, ‘brushing’ is a scheme affecting all online marketplaces.
‘Amazon has robust processes in place to prevent abuse from impacting our reviews, search rankings and other customer experiences. We will never stop improving the sophistication of abuse prevention in our store, and we will continue to take the appropriate enforcement actions, including support for law enforcement organisations in their efforts to hold bad actors accountable.
‘We strongly encourage those who have received unsolicited packages to report them to our customer services team so that we can investigate fully and take the appropriate actions.’