Massachusetts Couple Victim of Strange Amazon Scam

In October of 2017, Mike and Kelly Gallivan of Acton, Mass started receiving free mystery packages from Amazon. What started as a fun surprise has turned into something of an annoyance for the couple as these packages have continued to arrive at a rate of one or two a week ever since.

My initial reaction, like many, was BRING ON THE FREE THINGS! The couple was receiving items like phone chargers, USB fans and other cheap items.

Turns out that the two may be unwitting accomplices in a scam in an effort to manipulate buyer reviews on the Amazon web site.

The two have contacted Amazon and learned that all of the orders were paid for by gift card. This method doesn’t require a sender’s name, address or other information.

Here’s how the scam works: A seller trying to prop up a product would set up a phony e-mail account that would be used to establish an Amazon account. Then the seller would purchase merchandise with a gift card – no identifying information there – and send it to a random person, in this case the Gallivans. Then, the phantom seller, who controls the “buyer’s” e-mail account, writes glowing reviews of the product, thus boosting the Amazon ranking of the product.

The sending of the actual items boosts the review’s validity as it earns the marking of “verified review” meaning that Amazon can vouch that this person actually ordered the item in question. Amazon then highlights verified reviews on the product page and gives better ranking to items with more verified reviews.

Sadly, there is no way of knowing how the Gallivans, both retired nurses, fell victim to this scam. The likelihood is that at one point or another they ordered from the perpetrating company and their address was then used to perpetuate this scam.

I encourage online shoppers to make sure they are shopping Amazon to choose items that are fulfilled by Amazon rather than a third-party. You can see if this is the case by taking a look at the page either in the “add to cart” area or under the price in the item description.

This will limit the exposure of your information to third parties.

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy Central and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.

 

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Scams Exploiting Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 Crash

It’s an unfortunate reality that in the wake of a tragedy the scum of the earth rise up to show their true colors. Scammers exploit major news tragedies in an effort to make money from real donations or fake charities.

Malaysia_Airlines_Boeing_777In the days following the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 a large number of scam charities and malicious pages have popped up all over social networks.  These scams include fake Facebook pages in honor of the deceased. The pages request donations to be made in their honor.

Other web sites claim to have video footage of the plane crashing. In one instance the claimed video was posted on  the memorial page for one of the victims. Clicking the link leads to a pornographic web site which then attempts to load malware onto the viewers computer.

Through Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, users have been posting exaggerated headlines related to the incident along with links that lead to bogus web sites designed to “phish” users personal information including financial information and passwords.

If you’re looking for a way to give, the Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission both have tips and advice specific to this tragedy.

Here are some highlights from the FTC:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust. You want to find a charity with a proven track record with dealing with these disasters.
  • Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight in connection with current events. Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.

Your best bet is to think before you click. If your browser offers you a preview of the link when you hover over it, take the time to let it load before proceeding. When in doubt- don’t click and don’t share links!

Josh Gunderson is an award-winning Bullying Prevention and Social Media Specialist. Josh has appeared on MTV, Comedy and National Geographic. For more information about Josh and his educational programs please visit www.HaveYouMetJosh.com

You can purchase Josh’s book “Cyberbullying: Perpetrators, Bystanders & Victims” on Amazon! Available in paperback or for Kindle.