Couple worried mystery Amazon packages could be tied to international ‘brushing’ scam

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FOLSOM, Calif. -- A Northern California couple say they are concerned about mysterious packages that keep showing up at their doorstep.

Michelle Carroll told KTXL it all started a few weeks ago when she and her husband received a stuffed, talking hamster. They thought maybe a friend had sent it as a joke.

But then package after package from Amazon showed up on the doorstep of their Folsom home. So far, they've gotten a dozen knee support pillows in just a few weeks.

After doing some research, the Carrolls realized they might be victims of a strange international scam called "brushing."

Brushing is a way for companies to boost their online reviews by beating the system. A fake account is set up and products are mailed to random addresses. This allows the account to leave a glowing, "verified purchase" review, which is displayed more prominently on the seller's Amazon page.

There have been several reported brushing cases across the country in the past few months.

The Carrolls say all of the products sent to them were apparently paid for using a gift card.

Amazon says they are investigating the case, and the Carrolls are free to keep or donate any of those products.

Meanwhile, the Carrolls aren't sure how this all started but suspect it could be because they ordered phone cases from a vendor in China about six weeks ago.

A statement sent to KTXL from an Amazon spokesperson reads:

"We are investigating inquiries from consumers who have received unsolicited packages as this would violate our policies... We remove sellers in violation of our policies, withhold payments, and work with law enforcement to take appropriate action."

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