A woman from Portishead believes she has been targeted by a new type of scam being used by some sellers on Amazon.
Anna Beadman was puzzled when she received a random mix of products from Amazon she hadn't ordered over the course of a few months.
Initially she thought they might be a promotion or a free trial, but when the items kept coming, Anna asked many of her friends and family if they were sending them as a prank.
After no one took responsibility, she became worried her account had been hacked.
"I've had the weirdest mix of items including anti-wrinkle eye-patches, bamboo toothbrushes, a pet stair gate, scar gels, huge 'pull-on' pants and six LED lightbulbs,” she said.
"I contacted Amazon who said they had no record of these items on my account and that no money had been taken for them.
"They said there was no point in returning them as they didn’t know where they’d come from and there was nothing more they could do."
As more items arrived, Anna decided to search online for others with similar experiences. She discovered this could be a new scam affecting many online customers, not limited to Amazon.
The scam, known as 'brushing', allows third-party sellers to exploit Amazon’s highly competitive search ranking system for products – which favours items with high sales volumes and good reviews – by sending items to unsuspecting people. They then falsely log it as a genuine purchase.
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.
Anna said: "I had received the anti-wrinkle eye-patch and decided to look online at the reviews that were all amazing and referring to how much younger the patches had made them look.
"I noticed one of the recent reviews after I’d received the patches was from ‘Anna’ and realised on closer inspection that that was me."
Statement from Amazon
A spokesperson from Amazon said: "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."
"Sellers are prohibited from sending unsolicited packages to customers and we are relentless in our efforts to detect and prevent abuse.
"Fraudsters leverage a wide range of external sources to obtain consumer names and addresses. There are many places that consumers provide their information online and many companies that allow the re-sale of that consumer information.
"We are taking steps to make it even easier for Amazon customers to report their unsolicited package enquiries via Amazon.co.uk.
"Amazon has clear policies for both reviewers and selling partners that prohibit abuse of our community features."