An urgent warning has been issued by Which? after more than one million UK households have fallen victim to an Amazon “brushing” scam.

The consumer watchdog is concerned that a number of households are reporting having mystery Amazon packages delivered to their door which they did not order.

Which? believes third-party sellers are exploiting Amazon’s ranking, which favours products that are purchased more frequently, and sending them to unsuspecting customers and disguising them as a genuine purchases.

Householders have reported receiving items such as magnetic eyelashes, eyelash serum, toys for pets and children, Bluetooth accessories, an iPhone case, a Frisbee, medical gloves and other items that are cheap to ship in large volumes.

Some sellers take the scam a step further by creating a fake Amazon account linked to the recipient’s address to “purchase” the item themselves and then leave a positive fake review.

A survey of almost 2,000 people by the watchdog found that 4% of respondents – or, scaled up nationally, an estimated 1.1 million people – said they or someone in their household had received an unordered package.

Glasgow Times: The scam raised question marks over how their personal details. (PA)The scam raised question marks over how their personal details. (PA) were found as well as the environmental impact of the unwanted items.


Which? calls on Amazon to do more

Which? director of policy and advocacy Rocio Concha 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.”

Amazon issue statement over ‘brushing’ scam

Amazon said: “Orchestrated by bad actors who procure names and addresses from various external sources, ‘brushing’ is a scheme affecting all online marketplaces.

“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.”

What to do if you have been involved in an Amazon brushing scam

Which has given tips on what to do if you fall victim to the Amazon "brushing" scam.

·       Report the incident to Amazon’s customer service team.

·       The advice on Amazon’s website is to donate or dispose of the item that you received.

·       If you decide to keep or donate the item it is worth being wary because Which? has previously found safety and security issues with some cheap electronics purchased on Amazon Marketplace.