Third-party sellers are thought to be exploiting Amazon’s competitive search ranking system to send products to people who haven’t ordered them, according to consumer group Which?

A survey from the watchdog has revealed that many households have received items such as magnetic eyelashes, eyelash serum, toys for pets and children, Bluetooth accessories, an iPhone case, a Frisbee, medical gloves, all of which cheap to ship in large volumes.

The scam, known widely as "brushing", takes advantage of Amazon’s search ranking which favours items with high sales volumes and good reviews by falsely logging the parcels sent out to households as genuine purchases.

What is the Amazon “brushing” scam?

From cheap electronics to makeup products, many households have been receiving items they didn't order in new scam (


DPA/PA Images)

Millions of people in the UK have recently received an Amazon package at their home address that they did not order and was not sent by a known person.

Amazon described “brushing” as something "orchestrated by bad actors who procure names and addresses from various external sources."

The scam in which some third-party sellers also create fake Amazon accounts linked to the recipient's address to "purchase" the item themselves and leave a positive fake reviews has caused several concerns about the protection of personal information.

Since some people have been throwing away their mystery parcels, according to the Which? survey, it has also raised the question about the environmental impact of unwanted items.

Which? director of policy and advocacy Rocio Concha has called on the online retailer to do a thorough investigation into the matter and take action against attempts to mislead consumers.

Concha also 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."

What to do if you are a victim of an Amazon brushing scam?

The scam is currently being investigated by Amazon. But retailers has been encouraging anyone who received packages they didn’t to report it to their customer service team so they can “hold the bad actors accountable.”

Amazon's website also advices people to either donate or dispose the item that was received.

Whether you decide to keep or give away the item, it is worth taking note of the safety and security issues that Which? found in relation to cheap electronics purchased on Amazon.

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