A Massachusetts couple may be apart of a new scam, and not even realize it. Mike and Kelly Gallivan told "The Boston Globe" that one day they received an Amazon package, but didn't order anything.
"Why did you order this?" Kelly remembers asking her husband after opening the first package. Within the package, there was a four-inch plastic fan that you plug into a computer, along with a phone charger, and lithium-battery-powered hand warmer.
"I didn't," Mike remembered answering.
Then they kept coming. It wasn't just one package, but several packages a week for months. At first, the Gallivans thought it was amusing.
They felt like kids on Christmas morning as they ripped into these mystery boxes. But over the course of time and continued packages, they began to fear they were victims of a scam.
“We’re just plain, ordinary people,” Kelly said. “We don’t want any part of this. But the packages just keep coming.”
The packages typically included cheap items, such as USB-powered humidifiers to watches to rechargeable dog collars. Some items had descriptions written in Chinese. Most of these items Kelly and Mike would never use.
Like most recipients of packages, they check the invoice or paperwork within the box. The Gallivans said that there were no invoices or a return address. So the couple decided to contact Amazon.
All Amazon could tell them was that these items were purchased with a gift card and for security reasons they couldn't disclose any additional information. While they were never charged anything, they still felt a sense something was wrong.
Experts, two of which used to work for Amazon, believed the couple is victims of Amazon buyer reviews. "Verified buyer" or "verified review" can be seen in the review section. When people see these reviews, they can be sure that these were actual purchases.
These kinds of reviews are highlighted and displayed at the top where possible buyers are more inclined to purchase. These reviews are "important in the world of Amazon."
The experts, James Thomson and Chris McCabe, share how it works:
"A seller trying to prop up a product would set up a phony email account that would be used to establish an Amazon account. Then the seller would purchase merchandise with a gift card, no identifying information there, and send it to a random person, in this case, the Gallivans. Then, the phantom seller, who controls the 'buyer’s' email account, writes glowing reviews of the product, thus boosting the Amazon ranking of the product."
“The key is to get something delivered somewhere,” Thomson said. Once delivered to an address, then the person with the fake email and Amazon account can type in a bogus 5-star review. Typically these people are the ones who are selling the item.
After Kelly and Mike spoke with an Amazon representative, the felt that if it wasn't a big deal to Amazon, then it shouldn't be a big deal to them. However, over months of these deliveries, they were getting fed up and felt something "fishy" was happening. Plus, it was the principle of the thing. These are fraudulent reviews. No one can trust them, but buyers do.
Unfortunately, there has been no update as to if they have stopped receiving packages, but they wanted to get the word out that something is happening. If it happens to others, they encourage recipients to contact Amazon. The more people who are involved, the more Amazon might do.
What are your thoughts on this? Share with your family and friends to ensure their safety. In related news, another Amazon scam is going around. It’s targeting Prime Members. Check out the article here.