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Brushing Scams on the rise


Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott wanted to pass on some important information from the Federal Trade Commission about unordered packages being delivered to you, which can be part of something known as "brushing" scams.

Here is how brushing scams work: Third-party sellers on Amazon, eBay and other online marketplaces pay people to write fake, positive reviews about their products, or they do it themselves. To be able to post the reviews, these so-called "brushers" need to trick the site into making it appear that a legitimate transaction took place. Scammers will use a fake account to place gift orders and address them to a random person whose name and address they find online. Then, instead of actually mailing the item for which they want to post a review, the brushers will send a cheap, often lightweight item that costs less to ship.

Sending an item creates a tracking number, and when the package is delivered, it enables brushers to write a verified review. If you are on the receiving end, you usually are not charged for the purchase and your real account is not hacked but you are left in the dark as to who is repeatedly sending the mystery packages. In many cases, there is no return address. You do not need to worry that anything bad has happened to you or will happen to you if you get a package that might be part of a brushing scam.

The real losers here are the consumers who are possibly believing many of these fake positive reviews, or this artificial padding of reviews, because they might see 100 positive reviews, and then there may only be 60 or 70 of them that are legitimate. The likelihood that a consumer will buy a product that has five reviews is higher than the likelihood they will buy a product with zero reviews.

The Wagoner County Sheriff's Office recommends keeping an eye on your online shopping accounts. If you spot activity that is not yours, report it to the site right away, and think about changing your password for that site.

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