Mike and Kelly Gallivan, of Acton, Massachusetts, told The Boston Globe the first package arrived in October. They have continued to arrive at a rate of one or two a week, about 25 in all. The cheap items inside the boxes range from USB-powered humidifiers to rechargeable dog collars.
“We’re just plain, ordinary people,” Kelly Gallivan told the newspaper. “We don’t want any part of this. But the packages just keep coming.”
The couple, both retired nurses, said it was fun at first when they started receiving the packages from Amazon that they hadn’t ordered. Now they think it’s annoying and want it to stop, and fear they are being used in a scam, the newspaper said.
The Gallivans said Amazon told them the merchandise was paid for with a gift cardwith no sender’s name. But two former Amazon employees said the couple is probably unwittingly being used in a ruse to manipulate Amazon buyer reviews. The anonymous sender is likely writing glowing reviews of their own product.
Here’s how the scam works: a seller trying to boost the ratings of their own merchandise sets up a fake email account to create an Amazon profile, then purchases the items with a gift card and ships them to the address of a random person.
Once the package is delivered, the owner of the Amazon account is then listed as a “verified buyer” of the product and can write a positive review of it that gets higher placement on product pages because of their status, James Thomson, a former business consultant for Amazon, told The Boston Globe.
“The key is to get something delivered somewhere,” Mr Thomson said, noting that Amazon gives products with a greater number of verified reviews a higher ranking in search results, making them more noticeable to shoppers.