The British public have been warned of a "brushing" Amazon scam that sees mysterious, un-ordered parcels arrive at homes.
Amid warnings of sneaky WhatsApp scams (opens in new tab) and Royal Mail text scams (opens in new tab), Brits are now being urged to look out for this bizarre Amazon happening that is raising concerns over the safety of personal information and how much shoppers can trust Amazon reviews.
Consumer watchdog Which? has seen a rise in UK households reporting a mysterious Amazon parcel, that they haven't ordered, arriving at their address as part of "brushing" scams,
Which? believes sellers on the online shopping giant are attempting to manipulate Amazon's competitive product search ranking system by sending out random goods to addresses and counting them as orders in order to boost their rankings on the site.
The Liverpool Echo reports that the system rewards sellers for high sales volumes and positive reviews with good rankings on the site. Brushing scams involve sellers sending items to unsuspecting people at random addresses and then falsely logging it as a real purchase.
Other vendors go as far as creating phoney Amazon accounts tied to the recipient's address in order to "purchase" the item and then submit a five-star review to improve their ranking score.
People have reported having products like magnetic eyelashes, eyelash serum, toys for pets and children, Bluetooth accessories, iPhone covers, a Frisbee, medical gloves turn up at their homes in Amazon boxes, having not placed an order.
Now, Amazon has been warned it needs to take further measures to ensure personal customer information like addresses are kept private as well as to make sure shoppers can be sure reviews on items they want to buy are genuine.
Rocio Concha, Head of Policy and Advocacy at Which?, said, "Consumers should be able to trust that the popularity and reviews of products they are buying online are genuine, so it is troubling that third-party sellers appear to be using brushing scams to game Amazon Marketplace.
"Amazon needs to do more to thoroughly investigate instances of brushing scams and take strong action against sellers that are attempting to mislead consumers."
Responding to the shocking claims Amazon noted, "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."