RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island woman has been receiving gifts through Amazon, but it’s not as great as it sounds.

“It’s nothing that you really want,” Rachel told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

The free items include a kids balance bike in a million pieces, vitamins and a strange cellphone cord. Rachel is apparently a victim of a scam known as “brushing,” when an overseas company uses phony accounts to send unsuspecting people free items from Amazon. The overseas company, because it purchased the item, can then write positive reviews, hoping others will buy the items.

“It has nothing to do with my own reviews,” Rachel said. “It’s the company that sells these products that are creating these fake accounts. They’re purchasing the products that they sell, sending them to real people, but then they get to write the review.

“I’m honestly very uneasy that my information’s out there, that online shopping isn’t as secure as it really should be, and this kind of scam is kind of scary.”

In a statement, Amazon said it is investigating and that sending unsolicited packages to people violates company policy and could result in the sellers being removed from the site, payments being withheld and law enforcement being contacted.

“Our investigations thus far indicate that there have been few reviews written on these shipments,” Amazon said. “We have removed these, and will continue to remove any we do find immediately. We will hold offenders that have violated our policies accountable.”


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