I’m a Victim of Amazon Scammers

Over the past several weeks I’ve been receiving packages from Amazon for things I haven’t ordered. First a bunch of rolls of tape in bright colors, next a bunch of rolls of twine in bright colors, then a set of five clear plastic sleeves that you might slide a piece of paper into, each one bound on the edges in a different…bright color.

I looked inside each package for paperwork — nothing. I looked for sender information on the label on the outside of the package — nothing. There are no clues as to who might have sent any of these items.

Seeing as Christmas was barreling down the tracks, I asked family members if they had sent the items. They had not.

Then I remembered a podcast I’d heard not too long ago (can’t remember the name of it) that talked about this phenomenon and why someone would bother to do this.

This activity is called “brushing” and here’s how it works:

  1. An Amazon seller purchases their own product.
  2. Amazon seller ships said product to an unsuspecting individual.
  3. Amazon seller writes themselves a raving review on Amazon.

It boils down to this: They’re gaming the Amazon system to move their items further up the list in search results. Meanwhile, we’re all standing around scratching our heads and wondering where these packages are coming from and how to make it stop.

These businesses are using the demographics of online shoppers for illicit purposes. The fact that they can get a name and address is disconcerting enough. What else can they get to? Where/how do they get this information?

I’ve read and heard from various sources that this sort of thing typically begins after someone purchases something from China. Guilty as charged. Fortunately/unfortunately [perspective], almost everything I’ve ordered from China (and it’s only been a couple things) I have sent back — or initiated a return and been told to go ahead and keep the items — so I’ve kind of stopped trying to buy from China. But…they’ve got my info now. And the packages keep coming.

CBS News ran a story in February of 2018 explaining how it works. This story states that Amazon researches every reported instance, and that they shut down vendors once they’re caught in this practice. I, personally, have found it very difficult to get the Amazon employee on the other end of the chat or phone line to do anything more than thank me for being a loyal customer. I’m not proud to say, I recently found myself screaming at an Amazon representative on the phone. I know it’s not that individual’s fault, but Amazon’s system for managing these complaints really sucks. And it’s frustrating.

Below are photos of some of the items I’ve received.

Has this happened to you? Were you able to make it stop?

Make Money From Home…Not!

I recently stumbled upon an online ad that sent me back in time. It said, “Make Money Stuffing Envelopes.” You know where I saw it? CareerBuilder.com. Come on. You do realize this is a con, right? I mean, if you fall for this one, you deserve what you get.

I know. I fell for it when I was young and gullible. It was 20+ years ago, shortly after giving birth to my twin daughters at the ripe old age of 21. At that time I was determined to be a stay-at-home mom – at least until my girls started school.

The ad I fell for promised I could make $200-$300 a week stuffing envelopes. I was stoked! I filled out the order form, wrote out my $10.00 check and then excitedly checked the mail slot every day, anxious for my “kit” to arrive so that I could start pulling my financial weight at home.

When my package arrived, I was dismayed to find that it was nothing more than a poorly printed booklet containing lists of agencies and types of businesses I could contact who may need envelope stuffing and other clerical services. The other option that was suggested was that I could recreate the booklet and market it as my own. I read the booklet from cover to cover and briefly considered whether it really would be possible for me to build a business in that manner and decided…no. It wasn’t for me. I tossed the thing in the trash – lesson learned. Nine months later I was back in an office job.

The ad I saw on CareerBuilder.com last week claimed I could make $1,000 a week stuffing envelopes. Well, the pretend paycheck has gone up, as has the “initial investment” amount, but other than that, I’m sure things haven’t changed. Even if this were real, I can’t even imagine how many envelopes a person would have to stuff in order to earn $1,000 in a single week. It just doesn’t seem possible. There are so many obvious problems with that idea I can’t even justify listing them. It brings to mind the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza’s fiance dies from licking the envelope glue on their wedding invitations.

But you know what really chaps me? These ads are EVERYWHERE! Including legitimate employment sites. I did a search on Careerbuilder.com for “Work at Home” and got 160 pages of results! Beyond.com gave me 10 pages. Indeed.com…I don’t know how many…I stopped scrolling at 30.

While some of these jobs may be legitimate, I’m pretty sure they’re not the kinds of jobs you would feel good about having. For example, my search resulted in a slue of listings for “Call Center Agent.” I think there was one for every possible city/state combination. You know what that job is, right? It’s answering inbound calls and processing orders from those infomercials you see on tv. Glamorous!

There’s also a “Diet Gum Company” claiming you can make $1,500 per week processing orders at home. Even better – there’s a “Diet Company” that is going to pay you $6,000 a week for taking orders on your home computer. If these jobs were legitimate, first, instead of “Diet Gum Company” you’d see the real name of the company, and second, everyone would be working from home!

While the “Call Center Agent” job may be real, I have to ask this…Does anybody out there know anybody who has really made the money stated in those other ads?

These types of ads prey on people who have to make decisions like, “Do I go to the dentist to have my abscessed tooth pulled or do I feed my family?” They are desperate. If you’ve ever responded to one of these ads I’m guessing you didn’t do it because you were financially independent and just needed something to pass the time. You responded because you really needed the money and were fresh out of ideas for getting it any other way (legally).

I’m think I’m going to take some time and explore some of these listings over the next few weeks. I’ll report back on what I find.