The unsolicited fanny pack arrived in the mail, supposedly sent by “Joe Doe” in “Delaware.”
And it was a scam.
The Better Business Bureau Serving Delaware so far this year has received three complaints from consumers in other states about unordered stuff, supposedly shipped from warehouses in Delaware, said President Christine R. Sauers.
It was “random merchandise” for these residents of Arizona, Florida and Michigan. “Return addresses” were given as River Road in New Castle and Dawson Drive in Newark.
“If you Google it, you’ll find a warehouse there, which contributes to the deception,” she said.
The scam is called brushing, and here’s how it works:
“The companies – usually foreign, third-party sellers that are sending the items – are simply using your address that they discovered online,” the BBB wrote last year. “Their intention is to make it appear as though you wrote a glowing online review of their merchandise, and that you are a verified buyer of that merchandise. They then post a fake, positive review to improve their products’ ratings, which means more sales for them.”
And you might have a bigger problem.
“The fact that someone was able to have the items sent to you as if you purchased them indicates that they probably have some of your personal information such as your name, address and possibly your phone number. Once the information is out there on the internet, it could be used for numerous crooked enterprises.”
A brushing scam last July, involving seeds from China, generated intense discussion on the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Facebook page. Agriculture officials across the country were alarmed, fearing people would plant the seeds, unleashing who knows what.
The BBB in Charlotte, North Carolina, in January announced that they have been getting complains about unsolicited face masks, in what they called another brushing scam.
Unordered masks had also been reported back in August in Alabama, Florida and Virginia.
Sauers asked that consumers report scams on the BBB’s scam tracker page so that the BBB can plot trends, inform authorities and issue alerts to help prevent increasing the 230,000 scams already listed.
Officials recommend trashing any unsolicited items (the PPE might be useless), changing passwords on e-commerce accounts and checking financial statements.