COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A bracelet, necklaces, and kids’ toys.
A Columbus woman tells Better Call 4 that packages containing those items turned up on her doorstep, all addressed to her, all from Amazon.
But she says she didn’t order any of it and doesn’t even have an Amazon account. So, where did they come from? And why?
“You see boxes show up at your house, and you’re like, ‘I didn’t order this. Where’s this coming from?’ It’s called ‘brushing,'” said Steven Pope, founder of My Amazon Guy. Pope said “brushing” is a type of scam.
“Sellers are trying to improve their velocities, which helps them improve the score of their account, which leads to additional sales,” Pope said.
In other words: third-party sellers on Amazon, Ebay, or other online marketplaces are sending random items to an address they find online. Their intention? To make it appear as though you’re a verified buyer who wrote a glowing review of their products to improve their ratings and, in turn, their sales.
Pope said these days, it’s tough to become a seller on Amazon. So, for these “scammers,” the payoff is profitable.
“If it’s so hard to sell on the platform, sellers often look for a shortcut,” Pope said. “Well, one of those shortcuts is this ‘brushing’ scam.”
And while it’s a strange practice, Pope told Better Call 4 that it’s usually harmless to receive one, or more, of these packages.
“I just think this is old data that’s been put into a list somewhere that’s being shipped around the world,” said Pope. “What’s more likely happening is they’re just creating your user profile from a secondary account, putting your name on it, address, and then shipping you a free item.”
But what do you do with these “brushed” items you receive? The woman who contacted Better Call 4 said she tried to return them, with no luck.
Pope said it’s your choice to keep or toss them.
“Amazon is not going to charge the consumer any money,” he said. “There’s no risk that you’re going to get some fees, you’re not going to get a bill in the mail or anything like that. Nothing to worry about.”
Whether you keep or toss the items you receive, Pope said it’s important to report unsolicited packages. Amazon has a webpage for that. All you have to do is provide the tracking number.