Have you been ‘brushed’ by this Amazon scam?

Amazon scam sellers targeting UK to try to boost rankings

As Christmas approaches and huge numbers of parcels start being sent all over the UK, customers are being warned of a large-scale Amazon scam doing the rounds. More than 1m British homes may have already fallen victim to a trick known as ‘brushing’ This tactic is when sellers on Amazon Marketplace send unsolicited parcels to addresses to create fake increases in their sales numbers. 

The scammers usually send items that are very cheap to ship out to unsuspecting people and they then log them as genuine sales. They do this because Amazon prioritises high sales volumes and good reviews when creating the order in which to show sellers. By manufacturing these false increases in sales, the sellers can appear further up the list and therefore be more likely to get real transactions. 

The survey company Which? spoke to 1,839 people across the UK and discovered that 4% of people said someone in their household had received an item they did not order. They also assured that it was not sent by a known person, or held for a neighbour. Multiplying this out to a national scale, the consumer organisation predicts this could mean more than 1m households may have been hit with this Amazon scam. 

Amazon sellers are banned from sending unsolicited parcels by the company and customers are advised to report such packages to their customer service team. An Amazon spokesperson said: “Orchestrated by bad actors who procure names and addresses from various external sources, ‘brushing’ is a scheme affecting all online marketplaces. We estimate that less than 0.001% of Amazon orders are impacted by brushing as 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.”

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Written by

Claire Gordon


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