All about ‘brushing,’ one of the seediest scams in ecommerce

Brushing has become one of the easiest ways to make a fake review look real.


July 30, 2020

It’s an agricultural whodunit: People in 28 states are receiving mysterious seed packets from China and Kyrgyzstan.

This isn’t a Jack and the Beanstalk situation. State agencies are warning not to plant them for fear they could be invasive — and they’re pretty sure the seeds are part of a “brushing” scam.

WTF are ‘brushing’ scams?

They work like this: A shady seller finds your info and registers a fake Amazon or AliExpress account in your name. Then they use it to buy, say, a packet of their own seeds.

When the goods arrive, the seller leaves a glowing review — now with a “verified buyer” tag.

Don’t brush off brushing

Last year, Amazon encouraged the “verified” elite to rate more purchases. The idea: Their ratings are trustworthy, so they could drown out paid reviews.

According to one study, brushers jacked up their search rankings 10x faster than unbrushed rivals. And only 2.2% of brushing accounts were caught.

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.