I first told you about “brushing”  in August  of 2020 after many people in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom reported receiving unordered packages of seeds sent from China.  A wide variety of conspiracy theories quickly surfaced to explain what was happening, but the truth was that it was an example of a scam called “brushing.”   Brushing is the name for using false orders for products to boost the prominence of an online vendor.

Vendors pay brushers to make large orders of their product and ship them to strangers to make the sales appear to be legitimate.  The brushers follow up on these purchases by posting glowing reviews of the vendor’s product.  This combination of increased sales volume and positive reviews will, in turn, result in the increased prominence of the vendor in online marketplaces and result in increased sales.  Brushing is illegal in the United States and China, however, it is quite commonly used by Chinese companies.   Now we are seeing a resurgence of this scam with people receiving a wide variety of inexpensive products that they never ordered.


The good news is that while “brushing” is a scam, it does not directly threaten you.  The bad news is that this incident emphasizes the fact that you cannot truly trust online reviews and sales figures when determining whether you wish to purchase a particular product.  People who have contacted Amazon and other online retailers are generally told that they can either keep the products, get rid of them or donate them to a charity.  The primary takeaway, however, is that you don’t have to be concerned that you have become a victim of identity theft or some other scam if you receive an unordered item.  In order to make sure that someone has not used your credit card to order the item, you should always confirm with the seller that your credit card was not used.

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