/ Money

Beware this new Amazon ‘brushing’ scam

A Which? Money member contacted us when Amazon Prime deliveries they didn’t order turned up on their doorstep. Do you know what a ‘brushing’ scam is? We explain the details.

An Amazon Prime member recently let our Which? Money team know that they’d been sent two items they didn’t order and hadn’t paid for; a carbon monoxide detector and some gaming headphones.

When they called Amazon, they were told that the account used to purchase them wasn’t theirs, and that they were paid for with gift vouchers.

Three days later, they received two more packages – braids and a screen protector – but they refused to accept them. Again the member called Amazon, which put a block on the spurious account.

The member then changed their password and ordered a new credit card. No more orders arrived, but why were they sent to them in the first place?

Brushing scams explained

At first glance, receiving packages you haven’t paid for might seem like a great problem to have. But it’s likely to be a new scam known as ‘brushing’.

This type of fraud involves Amazon sellers setting up accounts in a stranger’s name, then sending their products to an unsuspecting recipient.

They then use this account they’ve set up to write fake ‘verified reviews’ in a bid to improve their seller ratings.

In this case, it’s likely that the member’s name and address had been leaked somewhere. We contacted Amazon and it assured us that the member’s genuine account hadn’t been compromised.

With the member’s permission, we also checked their email address on haveibeenpwned.com, a website that tells you whether your data has been part of a breach. In this case, the data had been involved in at least four.

What to do if you’re a victim of ‘brushing’

It’s always good to be cautious where personal data is concerned, so the member was right to report the incident to Amazon, change their password and order a new credit card.

See all our Consumer Rights scams advice

Identity theft is a serious threat as once a criminal has access to your personal information, they can do everything from open an account in your name and run up debt, or use it to get copies of your official documents.

You can ready more on what identity theft is and what to do if you think your information has been compromised in our guide.

Have you had free packages turn up in your name? If so, what did you do? Would you report them or keep them?

Comments
Allison says:
11 January 2019

i have been receiving small packages from china since 2015 that i haven’t ordered. i thought i was the only person experiencing this! i really dont know how to stop this. I have since deactivated my Ali express account but occasionally still receive the packages. Anyone else had or has this experience

Olivia Buckley says:
4 February 2019

Hi Alison, I’m contacting you from the BBC. This is something I am looking into and I’m interested in hearing about your experience. If you’re happy to speak with me, please send me an email to olivia.buckley01@bbc.co.uk. Many thanks, Olivia

Hi Allison, I’m contacting you from the BBC. I am interested in hearing about your experience as this is something I am looking into. If you’re happy to speak with me, please send me an email to olivia.buckley01@bbc.co.uk. Many thanks, Olivia.

Hi Olivia. Hope you’re well. Good to see that Rip Off Britain is interested in the brushing scam we’ve covered here. This story came from one of our case studies for our Money magazine – if you’d like me to put you in touch with the author (@awade) then I’m sure she’d be able to give you some more details.

Do let me know 🙂

George.

Hi George. Yes, that would be great! Please feel free to pass over my details. My email is olivia.buckley01@bbc.co.uk. Many thanks, Olivia.

Thanks Olivia 🙂 Have let Amelia know now.

Richard Collins says:
30 March 2019

I’ve been receiving packages, all random Chinese tat for the last week or so. I’ve contacted Amazon who said it was someone who has the same address as me but wouldn’t say who

They said they’d contact the sender and ask them to stop but inadvertently sent me the email which was addressed to someone called ‘Darla’. I don’t know anyone by that name :/

Really not sure what to do other than keep contacting amazon

Chris Baines says:
17 January 2019

Exact same thing happened to me last month. Worst thing is, Amazon didn’t seem too concerned that it had happened, told me I can keep the deliveries and also told me that they don’t have a security department that I could report it to, despite me stating that I believe a fraud had been committed.

Rachel says:
3 February 2019

I’ve had exactly the same thing happening to me. I got the police involved. I thought I had some weird stalker !

Hi Chris, I’m contacting you from the BBC. I am interested in hearing about your experience as this is something I am looking into. If you’re happy to speak with me, please send me an email to olivia.buckley01@bbc.co.uk. Many thanks, Olivia.

We’ve been getting random packages for months. Every time we contact Amazon, they won’t tell us anything about the person sending them and they won’t make it stop. They tell us just to keep the packages or donate them.

yvette says:
16 March 2019

i’ve been getting the same thing. Amazon has said that the address is the same. Email address different. They said I can keep the products. They will look into it.

Alice Evans says:
29 March 2019

Same been happening to me very unhappy about this Amazon not doing anything

Emma Ironmonger says:
6 April 2019

This has just happened to me today. 3 cool towels in an Amazon box, no paper work. I rang Amazon straight away who took the number starting with a Q. She said it was sent as a gift but was unable to say who sent it. She said she would email them to let them know I had received it and for me to keep the gift. She wasn’t concerned at all, but something just doesn’t sit right with me?????

Kate says:
13 April 2019

Me again… I have received two new ‘gifts’ from amazon…a power bank and a leather key ring thing. I have no payment details with amazon so I know I’m not being charged. After my last call to them I am assuming these are gifts but still cannot understand why I receive them.Who could benefit from this apart from me as the recipient?

Kate says:
17 April 2019

Me again! Another ‘gift’ received today, this time its a set of 2 phone chargers (for a phone I don’t own). Again, sent from amazon with no packaging information…

Hi Kate,

Have you checked to see whether you have ‘written’ any ‘glowing reviews’?

If you read the Boston Globe article on the previous page, a clue is China where stuff is produced dirt-cheap. They can afford to give cheap stuff away to get reviews apparently although they are probably from a false account.

Have you identified the products on Amazon? If so, would you like to list them here? You can miss off the https:// and they won’t go into moderation. I rather enjoy digging into dodgy Amazon stuff.

D McMurray says:
18 April 2019

Hi , I’ve been receiving packages from Amazon that I have not ordered. I have contact Amazon to no avail. The items are if no use to me , so I don’t know what to do with . I have tried refusing them with the courier but they just say it’s your name your address ,,, your problem . Without return labels , I would have to foot the bill to return the items to Amazon. It’s a right pain .
Dale

Bri says:
10 May 2019

Just refused a delivery from Amazon of a branded washing pole that had our correct delivery details on. I refused delivery as seemed very dodgy.
Will be interesting to see if any subsequent deliveries not ordered arrive….
Speaking to the delivery driver he said that he’s delivered lots of washing poles today and thought perhaps they were on special offer.
B

Jim says:
17 May 2019

Hi
I belong to a UK forum and we have a thread with hundreds of posts of daily tatt being delivered by Amazon to hundreds of people all around the UK.
ive received around 15 items now and one prime delivery.
a month ago i contacted Amazon by phone about this Pushing scam. at first they tried to make out it must have been one of my friends who had sent me a gift and the usual we dont really care.
after that i emailed them with all the Q numbers and a picture of the items and my address on the box.
strangely within an hour i was contacted and advised this had been escalated for me as they could see on their system the items had been sent to me but not see that i had ordered them.
they could not tell me the results of their finding due to data protection.
since the above email i sent them all the deliveries stopped.

so hang on a minute. they cannot divulge the info they find due to data protection but what about my data protection. i work with GDPR on a daily basis so i know when something is not right. my info from Amazon is being used fraudulently and items are being delivered to my address with my full details on them.

sadly last week i ordered 2 items and this week the tatt has started again. 2 packages so far. eyebrows trimmer but in the pack was 2 hanging hooks and yesterday a black head spot remover.