BOSTON (CBSMiami) – A couple swamped with deliveries from Amazon which they didn’t order believes they are the target of an international online retail scam.
Kelly and Michael Gallivan, of Acton, Massachusetts, said they receive packages once or twice a week which they didn’t buy. The said the first one arrived last October.
“I went out and picked up the package and Mike’s name was on it. I opened it up and I said what did you buy this stuff for? And he said ‘I didn’t buy that’,” said Kelly Gallivan.
That first item was a phone charging hand warmer. It was soon joined by a humidifier, a flashlight, a Bluetooth speaker, a computer vacuum cleaner, and some LED lights.
So who did they think was ordering the items?
“We did not know. I called Amazon, and what I wanted to do was I wanted to like send it back. They said to me what’s the order number. I said I don’t have an order number because I didn’t order the thing,” said Michael Gallivan.
The merchandise comes without a return address.
The scam is known as “brushing.”
An online seller, usually overseas, purchases their own products through fake buyer accounts they’ve created. The products are then shipped to a real address. Then, the seller writes a positive review of their items from the fake buyer account.
“The positive reviews are like gold,” said Brian Kilcourse, a retail security expert. “People are always looking for a new hole in the structure at Amazon to be able to put more fake positive reviews on them.”
In a statement, Amazon said they investigate every report of customers receiving unsolicited packages and will ban all vendors are reviewers who abuse the review system.
The Gallivans say in addition to getting all of the unwanted merchandise to their home, they have another concern.
“It indicates that information that’s very close to us, about us, is out there circulating around the world,” said Michael Gallivan.
The Gallivans suspect it was the purchase of a guitar accessory from China that began the overflow of unsolicited items. As for the merchandise, they plan to give away as much as they can.