Amazon Brushing Scam. What is Amazon brushing and how does it work?
Updated: Feb 14, 2022
Over one million British households could have been targeted by the Amazon brushing scam that sees Sellers send unsolicited packages to addresses to artificially increase their sales numbers.
That is the finding of a Which? survey of 1,839 people, which found that four percent of those asked said a member of their household had received a package that they had not ordered. That could translate nationally to 1.1m people across the country, with one woman saying she had received over 50 unordered times in the space of just eight months.
Amazon sellers are banned from sending unsolicited packages. The company, which last year said it spent more than $700m on fighting fraud and abuse, advises people to report such packages to their customer services team.
So how does Amazon brushing work and could it affect you or your online business? Thompson and Holt managing partner Craig Gedey explains.
“Brushing involves sending items that are usually cheap to ship to unsuspecting people and logging them as genuine sales to increase a seller’s sales statistics,” Gedey explained. “The idea behind it is to appear as highly ranked as possible in Amazon’s search system, which prioritises those with high volumes and good reviews.
“The report suggests that many of these Sellers are based in China - but experts over there have since said that the technique is effectively seen as a cost of doing business on the platform, rather than a frowned-upon black hat tactic. It is seen as a legitimate way to beat competitors.
“However at Thompson and Holt we would strongly advise against this. Being caught Amazon brushing - which can happen if people report your products as having been sent unsolicited - can lead to suspension and exclusion from the site. If that has already happened to you then get in touch with us to get back online as quickly as possible - but otherwise do not consider it as a legitimate way to boost your sales.”
An Amazon spokesperson 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.”