Bay Area man can't stop unwanted Amazon packages from coming in 'brushing scam'

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Tuesday, June 28, 2022
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"What they'll do is they'll send people very cheap products that only cost a few cents... They'll then ship that product to somebody and then create a review for a different product, more expensive product," said one expert.

MENLO PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- It's Christmas all year round for one Menlo Park man. He can't stop the "gifts" from coming... and he's not happy about it.

Mark Potter opens up one of about 16 packages he's received in the last six weeks.

"I have a lot of experience doing this," said Potter. "This is a small one. It's a 'Pop Pez.'"

Since last August, he says he received more than 100 packages from Amazon filled with items he didn't order.

He's contacted the company to try to stop the packages from coming without success.

"Many many times they said they've taken we've taken care of the problem. Don't worry about it. 'You won't get any more packages.' And of course, I continue to," he lamented.

Amazon told him not to worry about it, that he wouldn't need to pay for the shipments and that he could keep the items or donate them.

He donated most to Goodwill.

RELATED: San Leandro company accused of sending customers products they didn't order

Alex Hamerstone of the information security firm TrustedSec believes Mark is the victim of a "brushing scam."

The motive behind it is to create fake, but positive reviews under the recipient's name to boost sales.

"So what they'll do is they'll send people very cheap products that only cost a few cents. It's common that it might be some plant seeds or something else -- a very low value product. They'll then ship that product to somebody and then create a review for a different product, more expensive product," Hamerstone said.

He says all the companies need is a tracking label and the recipient's address, which is easy to get.

Then they'll create a fake user account to post the product review on a completely different product.

He says review sites are caught unaware.

"They don't really have a good way to verify that the person that is writing that review, the verified review, actually received the product in question," he said.

Potter considers all the unwanted packages he's getting a waste of his time.

"I've had to deal with all the waste. I had to deal with making the trips to Goodwill," he said.

RELATED: Got a package you didn't order? It could be a scam

He contacted 7 On Your Side. We reached out to Amazon.

"The packages should stop coming," it said. "Our seller relations teams is getting in touch with the seller to make sure this doesn't happen again."

"I'll be relieved when they stop coming," Potter said.

Hamerstone suggests to be suspicious of any overly glowing praise for a product, and to give greater weight to reviewers who submit photos of the products they buy, and to make purchases from brands you know and trust.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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