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Amazon reviews scam? Couple who love getting mystery packages afraid that they will be the next victims

Nov. 27, 2017: Packages adorned with Amazon logos travel along a conveyor at the inside of an Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, N. J.

(Reuters)

A Massachusetts couple who continue to receive mystery packages from Amazon, out of fear that they will be the next victims in what is considered to be a comprehensive fake reviews scam which is affecting the e-commerce giant.

Mike and Kelly Gallivan, of Acton, told The Boston Globe the first package came out in October. They have continued to come to a rate of one or two per week, about 25 in total. The cheap items in the range fields of the USB humidifiers rechargeable collars.

“We are just ordinary people,” Kelly Gallivan told the newspaper. “We don’t want any part of. But the packages just keep on coming.”

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This Acton couple getting mystery packages from #Amazon them not to. https://t.co/bOtsmNS6R8 pic.twitter.com/tjlosZYCg8

— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) February 7, 2018

The couple, both retired nurses, say it was nice when she started receiving the packages from Amazon that they had not ordered. Now they think that it is annoying and want to stop, and are afraid that they will be used in a scam, the newspaper says.

The Gallivans say Amazon told them that the goods were paid with a gift card without a sender name. But two former Amazon employees say the Gallivans probably unwittingly used in a ruse to manipulate Amazon buyer reviews. The anonymous sender is likely to write rave reviews of their own product.

Here is how the scam works: a seller trying to boost the ratings of their own merchandise sets up a fake e-mail account to create an Amazon profile, then buy the items with a gift card and send to the address of a random person. As soon as the package is delivered, the owner of the Amazon account is listed as “verified buyer” of the product and can write a positive assessment of the higher placement on product pages, because of their status, James Thomson, a former business consultant for Amazon, told the Boston Globe.

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“The most important thing is to get something shipped somewhere,” Thomson said, noting that Amazon gives products with a larger number of authenticated reviews a higher ranking in the search results, making them more noticeable to the shoppers.

Mike Gallivan said that the packets be delivered to his house in a white van, and they have no invoices or receipts. He told the Boston Globe that one of the packages had an address to Xiamen Paji Trading Co. in Fujian, China.

The Gallivans’ home is not the only address to which any Amazon deliveries are piling up.

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Student union centers in seven universities in Canada have also received mystery packages since the fall, according to the CBC.

Shawn Wiskar, University of Regina Students ‘ Union vice-president of student affairs, says his facility has received at least 15 random packages with products ranging from iPad cases, of the male gender toy. He said that staff are “very discreet” went door-to-door in their offices and in other student centers to see if someone had the ordered items.

“The nature of the question we have is, will this stop and why are these packages come?” he said. “Our first guess was maybe this was an elaborate hoax from one of our partner universities, but it seems there’s a lot of money to spend on this elaborate prank.”

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Student union-president of Ryerson University in Toronto – one other recipient of the mystery packages – told the CBC that Amazon would not say who is sending the items, citing privacy reasons.

“We are investigating questions of the consumers have received unsolicited packages like this would be in conflict with our policies,” the company told the Boston Globe in a statement. “We remove the sellers is in conflict with our policies, the withholding of payments, and working with law enforcement to take appropriate action.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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