Free Amazon packages fuel concerns for international ‘brushing’ scamJuly 27, 2020
Free packages from Amazon might sound like a dream come true. But for Ellie Rhodes in Greenville, it’s concerning. On July 10, Rhodes said she found a package on her doorstep that contained a book. The package didn’t have a return address. “I immediately knew I didn’t order it,” she recalled. Within two weeks, she received two more packages. Once again, neither one of them had a return address. One of the packages was another copy of the book she received earlier. She said when she called Amazon to report the packages, a representative told her it wasn’t a big deal.”Just keep it, throw it away, donate it, don’t send it back,” she said a customer service representative told her. “Don’t worry, everything is fine.””That is not true,” she said. “And I have found out the hard way.”What Rhodes found was that a separate Amazon account was created for each package sent to her. The fake accounts used the name and address from her real Amazon account. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) defines it as “brushing,” saying third party sellers are sending the packages. An Amazon spokesperson said the information used by senders is obtained online, and not from Amazon accounts. Once the seller has sent an item, they use that fake account to write a good review of their merchandise, according to the BBB. The bureau also said the sellers are often not American. It’s not entirely clear where the term “brushing” comes from. “Some people are getting some very nice things in the mail. They’re not all little envelopes with books or something like that in it,” said Rhodes. “I can see why people would be tempted to keep it because Amazon tells you to keep it, but don’t please don’t.” She reported the fake accounts to Amazon, hoping they’d be cancelled. Rhodes said she also changed her account information, including her payment method. Now she’s closely monitoring her credit card statements for any suspicious charges. But she said she was disappointed she didn’t get advice from Amazon to change her account information, and she’s hoping anyone else who experiences what she did will change their account information. “It is true that they may not be currently using your payment information, but you don’t know if they have it, you don’t know if they’re gonna share it, you don’t know if they’re gonna sell it down the road,” said Rhodes. Taking the advice of the postal service, she sent one of the packages back. She said she’s hoping if enough people send the packages back, rather than keep them, it will create return fees Amazon won’t want to pay, which may motivate them to take action. “I think they’re trying to downplay this whole thing and don’t really want to admit what’s going on and don’t really want to address it,” she said. WYFF News 4 has reached out to Amazon. As of Sunday evening, we have not yet heard back.
Free packages from Amazon might sound like a dream come true.
But for Ellie…