Amazon customers are being targeted in a new ‘brushing scam’ where unscrupulous retailers send out Suzhichou branded scarves to boost sales volumes and create fake reviews on the Amazon website. These "sales" then help their products to rank higher in search results.
This scam has been uncovered by the consumer organisation Which? Customers who are affected by the scam are being advised that there is no cause for panic, but they should report the unwanted package to Amazon.
Amazon claim that these so-called ‘brushing scams’ affect all online marketplaces but it had "robust processes" in place to deal with the problem.
How do 'brushing' scams work?
An unscrupulous seller will submit a fake order and then send a cheap, low-quality product (such as one of these scarves) to a random address. The order generates a tracking number on Amazon marketplace and once received, the scammer is able to leave a fake five-star review, which in turn bolsters their figures. This results in more people seeing and buying poor-quality products, because they are under the mistaken impression they are highly rated.
Who has been affected?
The BBC has reported that one Amazon user, Brooke North from Grays in Essex, received a Suzhichou scarf last month: She said: "I thought it was weird because I didn't order it. I was going to put it in the bin but I gave it to my niece instead because she goes horse riding and it was covered in horses. I didn't get in touch with Amazon because it was just posted through the letterbox with 'Suzhichou' printed on the box."
Other people have also commented on social media saying that that they have also received similar scarves recently.
How did the scammer get customer details?
Which? says that fraudsters get names and addresses from "any one of a number of places". It said some shoppers have reported receiving the scarves after ordering a different item from a Facebook marketplace store based in China.
Details may have also been taken from a publicly available source, been compromised in a data leak, or accessed via an unsecure website. People who have been targeted should report the package and change their password.
In a statement Amazon said: "We are relentless in our efforts to detect and prevent abuse from impacting customer experiences. Sellers are prohibited from sending unsolicited packages to customers and we will continue to improve the sophistication of abuse prevention in our store and take the appropriate actions like suspending or removing selling privileges."
How widespread is ‘brushing’?
In 2021 Which? reported that more than a million households in the UK could have been victims of brushing scams. It surveyed 1,839 people and found 4% of respondents said they or someone in their household received a mystery Amazon package.
As reported in The Customer Service Blog recently, the UK's Competition and Markets Authority is currently
investigating Google and Amazon over fake and misleading reviews. We will provide
updates on this investigation later this year.
Some of the information in this
article is taken from the BBC News website and we acknowledge their ownership
of copyright in this part of the article.
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