Week 46: Unsolicited parcels from fraudsters – as gifts and sometimes also with an invoice

22.11.2022 - Last week, the NCSC received its 30,000th report for this year. Among them was a report concerning several unsolicited parcels that were delivered in what turned out to be an attempted brushing scam. The fraudsters typically pay for the parcels, but the victim in this case did not receive the parcels as a gift, and is now supposed to pay the outstanding invoices

Recipient receives unordered parcels from Amazon – and is supposed to pay

Last week, a victim reported that Amazon had sent him several parcels since mid-October even though he had never ordered them. It was assumed that fraudsters had access to his account, placed the order and then tried to intercept the parcels. However, it transpired in this case that the person reporting the fraud did not have an Amazon account at all. Someone had opened an account in his name and ordered products. It was striking that all the products ordered were rated very positively in the online shop. Consequently, the NCSC assumed that it was a brushing scam, which aims to generate as many 5-star ratings as possible from verified buyers for a product or online shop. In this context, "brushing" means boosting ratings, and it works as follows: only those who have bought a product from Amazon and have actually accepted the parcel are entitled to submit a rating as a verified buyer. The addition of "verified purchase" means that Amazon has verified that the item was actually purchased. Many users read these positive reviews from other "buyers" and are tempted to trust the online shop and also buy from this merchant. Moreover, the products automatically end up with a higher ranking due to the reviews and are thus displayed to more customers.

The fraudsters typically use fake accounts to purchase cheap products, pay for them and send them at random to other people's addresses. The recipients receive the parcels as a gift, so to speak. However, this case was different. The fraudsters managed to order various products with a monthly invoice. Despite repeated intervention by the recipient, the parcels just keep on coming. Not only does the recipient now have iPhone cases, hoodies and LED lamps, but he also has to pay the amount owed. In the worst case scenario, he may even be threatened with debt collection.

  • If you receive unsolicited parcels, contact the online shop so that it can take the appropriate steps.
  • Amazon has set up a special page for this purpose: https://www.amazon.de/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=G33XVXQPUV79Z2ZC
  • If you receive an invoice for an order that you did not place, the NCSC recommends that you contact the online shop immediately and inform it, preferably by registered letter, that you did not make the purchase.

Last modification 22.11.2022

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