On Sunday 7 October there was a knock at my door. Not expecting anyone, and rarely getting an unexpected visit, my husband and I exchanged a puzzled look. He went and answered the door and came back with two small packages from Amazon, both in my name.

This is not an unusual event, I mean I do order things from Amazon from time to time. What was unusual is that I hadn’t ordered anything for over 2 weeks. Being curious, I opened both packages to find two very random items which I have no recollection of even looking at let alone ordering. One was a tooth whitening product and the other was an electric facial cleansing brush.

There was no invoice slip, no gift message, no trace of these items in my account order history. Checked the bank, no matching transactions there.

It had been my birthday the Thursday before, so my first thought was maybe somebody had sent me a birthday gift. Pretty strange items to choose for that, but still. So I asked around, but no, nobody had sent me anything. I figured it was some sort of mix up at Amazon and put it out of my mind, intending to contact them about it at some point in the next few days.

Yesterday (Tuesday) there was another delivery. Again in my name, with no invoice slip or any clue as to who had ordered it. Nothing in my account history, no charges on my bank card. This time it was a light up makeup mirror.

Today yet more tooth whitening stuff arrived. By this point I was getting suspicious. I contacted Amazon and explained these were all things that I haven’t ordered or been charged for. Using a tracking number from one of the parcels the customer service agent managed to figure out where they’d come from and told me that they were gifts.

Hmm…ok. Nobody within my family had sent me a gift (I’d checked) and nobody else has ever bought me anything from Amazon before. Besides which if this person knew me they’d know these items weren’t exactly top of my list of priorities in life. Also none of these items were on my wishlist. The CS agent said they could ask the buyer to contact me if I’d like, so I said yes and left it at that.

Upon further investigation, it appears that I’ve fallen victim to a well known scam which goes something like this…

  • You buy something from a third party seller on Amazon. Said seller then either uses your details to open an Amazon account or sells your details on for others to open a new account.
  • Seller buys their own product(s) with this new account, often using a gift card so that it’s harder to trace.
  • Seller then leaves what looks like a legitimate review (with the “verified purchase” label) on their own products in order to boost sales.

Sure enough, when I searched one of the products I’d gotten on Amazon, there was a review under my name. I found two further reviews. All completely bogus. Here’s a screenshot of said fakery.

Screenshot of fake reviews

If ever there were proof that reviews on retailers sites are not to be trusted, this is it. Do a quick search for “Amazon reviews scam” and you’ll find that this process is widely reported. Amazon don’t seem to care - why would they? They’re still getting their cut of the profits.

I’m not overly worried that somebody is sending me free shit, but it is slightly creepy and frankly annoying that my name is attached to fake reviews. Plus there are reports of people having this stuff sent to them for years, which could get seriously irritating.

I did leave a comment under each of the reviews pointing out that the reviews were fake and it was a well known scam. Maybe that will stop whoever it is from sending me further rubbish that I have no desire or use for.

I also reported each review, though that seems like a flawed system as you don’t get to tell Amazon why you’re reporting it. You click the “Report abuse” link and that’s it, no text input to give a further explanation. If I were being cynical (perish the thought!) that could lead me to believe that Amazon don’t really care all that much about potential abuses in their review system.

I wonder if I’ll have another delivery tomorrow.