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20 февраля 2018, 20:10

Amazon Scam Floods Couple With Unwanted Packages

Stay on target

Mike and Kelly Gallivan have what sounds like the onset of a hoarding problem: Their Massachusetts home is cluttered with boxes and envelopes from Amazon.

Except, they didn’t order any of them.

As reported by the Boston Globe , the first package arrived in October.

“Why did you order this?” Kelly asked her husband, after opening the box to discover a 4-inch plastic USB fan and combination phone charger-and-lithium-battery-powered hand warmer.

“I didn’t,” Mike said.

The Gallivans initially found humor in their odd situation. But after months of deliveries—which turned from fun to creepy—they just want to be left alone.

When Kelly and Mike contacted Amazon about the perplexing parcels, the online retailer told them everything had been paid for via gift card; the sender (or senders) remain anonymous.

Presumably ruling out family or friends who might be playing some kind of sick joke on the Acton pair, experts suspect the Gallivans are the victims of a scam.

As former Amazon employee James Thomson explained to the Globe , a seller likely purchased their own merchandise with a gift card and sent it to a random address (Mike and Kelly’s, possibly swiped from a previous purchase). The vendor then uses a bogus “buyer’s” account to write positive reviews online.

“The key is to get something delivered somewhere,” ex-Amazon business consultant Thomson told the paper. As far as the e-commerce site is concerned, the recipient—real or fake—is a “verified buyer” writing a “verified review.”

“And that is hugely important in the world of Amazon,” Thomson added.

This loophole allows struggling shopkeepers to manipulate the popular service and fortify their digital stock by tricking consumers into buying mediocre (at best) products.  And it ensnares unsuspecting accomplices, like retired nurses the Gallivans.

“We’re just plain, ordinary people,” 68-year-old Kelly said. “We don’t want any part of this. But the packages just keep coming.”

The parcels themselves don’t give anything away: there are no invoices or receipts, and the shipping labels come with normal SKU and QR codes; the return address is usually an Amazon warehouse in Lexington, Ky.

The company promised to look into what Mike called “fishy” drop-offs. But after two months of radio silence, the couple enlisted the Boston Globe to investigate. Even staff reporter Sean Murphy couldn’t make any headway.

“We are investigating inquiries from consumers who have received unsolicited packages as this would violate our policies,” the firm told him. “We remove sellers in violation of our policies, withhold payments, and work with law enforcement to take appropriate action.

“Amazon has multiple checks in place to monitor customer accounts and transactions, and have systems designed to identify and prevent suspicious activities,” it later said. “As bad actors get smarter, so do we. Amazon is constantly innovating to protect the customer experience.”

The Gallivans, meanwhile, have a growing collection of USB cables, wireless chargers, phone cases, high-intensity flashlights, LED tent lamps, and in-car trash bags.

They are also the not-so-proud owners of a new computer vacuum cleaner, USB-powered humidifier, cigarette-lighter keychain, Bluetooth speaker, rechargeable dog collars, facial mask, and outdoor TV plastic cover, among other bewildering goodies.

“We investigate every report of customers receiving unsolicited packages, and thus far our investigations have shown very few reviews submitted associated with these shipments,” a company spokeswoman told Geek. “We will continue our ongoing efforts to prevent abuse and will ban all vendors and reviewers who abuse the reviews system.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Feb. 13 with comment from Amazon.

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Source: https://www.geek.com/tech/amazon-scam-floods-couple-with-unwanted-packages-1730713/?source=amazon