Watch CBS News

Couple swamped by Amazon deliveries that they didn't order

Swamped by Amazon packages you didn't order?
Couple swamped by Amazon packages that they never ordered 02:56

ACTON, Mass. -- A Massachusetts couple believes they are the target of an international online retail scam after being swamped by deliveries from Amazon. The packages have arrived once or twice a week for the past five months. The problem? They didn't order them.

Michael and Kelly Gallivan say the first un-ordered package arrived in October.
"I went out and picked up the package and Mike's name was on it. I opened it up and I said, 'What did you buy this stuff for?' And he said, 'I didn't buy that!'" Kelly told CBS News correspondent Jericka Duncan.
They say "that" was a phone charging hand warmer, and a humidifier, a flashlight, a Bluetooth speaker, a computer vacuum cleaner and some LED lights joined soon after.
"Who did you think sent the box?" Duncan asked.

"We did not know. I called Amazon, and what I wanted to do was I wanted to send it back. They said to me what's the order number? I said I don't have an order number 'cause I didn't order the thing," Michael said.

The merchandise comes without any return addresses.

The scam is known as "brushing." An online seller – usually overseas – purchases their own products through fake buyer accounts they've created. The products are shipped to a real address. Then, the seller writes a positive review of their items from the fake buyer account. 
"The positive reviews are like gold," retail security expert Brian Kilcourse said. "People are always looking for a new hole in the structure at Amazon to be able to put more fake positive reviews."
In a statement to CBS News, Amazon said they investigate every report of customers receiving unsolicited packages and will ban all vendors and reviewers who abuse the reviews system.

"Explain why it's so concerning to get random packages to your home," Duncan said to the Gallivans.

"It indicates that information that's very close to us, about us is out there circulating around the world," Michael responded.

The Gallivans suspect it was the purchase of a guitar accessory from China that began the overflow of unsolicited items. They're now hopeful that after telling their story, the packages will stop coming. As for the merchandise, they plan on giving away as much as they can.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.