What Is A Brushing Scam?

If you receive items or packages that you never ordered, you may be the victim of a brushing scam. Brushing scams are illegal in the United States and many other countries. While you may enjoy the surprise of receiving items that you weren’t expecting, brushing scams may be a symptom of identity theft. If you receive packages you aren’t expecting, there are a few steps that you might want to consider taking.

What Is A Brushing Scam?

A brushing scam is a term that refers to receiving parcels or packages that you did not order. There are a variety of reasons that bad actors set up brushing scams. One reason can be to artificially inflate product reviews on online marketplaces like Amazon or eBay. The seller ships their product to you (at their cost). Then, once you are a verified purchaser of the product, they use your account information to post a favorable review.

Favorable reviews from verified purchasers can make a positive impact on future sales, so the seller may find that it’s financially profitable to engage in brushing. This is especially true if the item in question doesn’t cost that much and is light and inexpensive to ship. Brushing is fraudulent and illegal in the United States and many other countries.

What Is A Brushing Scam

Why Is A Brushing Scam Bad?

If you receive items you didn’t purchase as part of a brushing scam, you may wonder what the big deal is. After all, you got extra items and didn’t have to pay for them. You might enjoy getting these items or find them useful. As with many other types of fraud and scams, the facts of the matter are a bit more complicated.

Brushing scams can often be an indicator of identity theft or the compromise of your account credentials. In some instances, scammers may use your account information and address to order and receive merchandise. Then, they plan to steal the packages from your home (and leave you on the hook).

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Hit By A Brushing Scam?

If you have received unsolicited items and suspect you might have been the target of a brushing scam, here are a few things that the United States Postal Inspection Service suggests you can do:

  • Do not pay for the merchandise — sellers may contact you and use high-pressure tactics to try and get you to pay for it.
  • Return the items to sender — if the package is unopened, you can mark it as “Return to Sender” and the Postal Service will return it to the sender at no charge.
  • Change your account passwords — Look through your online accounts and make sure that you have secure passwords that you change regularly.
  • Contact the merchant — If the item shipped from an online retailer such as Amazon or eBay, contact the merchant to report the package and have any review removed as fraudulent.
  • Monitor your credit report — take advantage of a free credit report to make sure there are no unexpected or inaccurate entries.

Can I Keep the Items?

The Federal Trade Commission has stated that you are not required to pay for unsolicited items and you may keep them if you want. Keep in mind however, that you don’t know where these items came from or what quality they might have, so it’s possible that they may be more dangerous than you expect. If you feel that any items you received may be dangerous or overly suspicious, you can always contact your local law enforcement or the United States Postal Inspection Department.

The Bottom Line

A brushing scam is a type of fraudulent activity where scammers might send you unsolicited items or packages. In some cases, this is to then use your online account information to write a fake review as a “verified purchaser”. While this may seem like somewhat of a victimless crime, it can be a sign that your identity or online accounts may have been compromised. It can be a good idea to monitor your credit report or change your online account security information.

If you feel you have been the victim of a brushing scam, you do have the option to keep the items if you want, as you are under no legal obligation to pay for them. Or, if the package has not been opened, you can mark it “Return to Sender” and the Post Office will return it at no charge to you. If any item you receive seems overly suspicious or dangerous, report it to the Postal Inspection Department and/or your local law enforcement.


Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the wild west of digital currency. There’s plenty of money to be made – and plenty of ways to lose it. Knowing the difference between the two isn’t always obvious.

One thing to look out for when investing in NFTs or other forms of digital currency is the possibility of getting scammed. We’ll go over some of the most common scams in this article, so you can invest safely.

NFT Scams to Avoid

There are many NFT-related scams that investors should beware of. Here are the most common types of scams and how to spot them.

Fake giveaways

One of the most common NFT scams is falling for a giveaway where you enter you for a chance to win a free NFT. All you have to do to enter is send a small amount of cryptocurrency.

Of course, there is no NFT to win, and there’s also no way to recoup the crypto you’ve sent. This scam is one of the easiest to avoid. If there’s a legitimate giveaway, you shouldn’t have to pay to enter.

Artificial value

It’s easy for someone to mint an NFT and create a false high value so that a buyer winds up paying for something that has little or no intrinsic value.

Here’s how that might work. Let’s say an artist has created an NFT that no one has bid on. They open a new account and bid $5,000 on that NFT and purchase it. Then, they will share on social media that their NFT has sold for $5,000, without disclosing that they actually bought the NFT themselves.

A few days later, they will relist the NFT for $6,000. It may end up selling for that price or even higher because people can see that it has been purchased before for $5,000. But that NFT has no real value because there is no real demand for it.

Rug pulls

A rug pull is when a creator or group of creators will start raising money for an NFT project. They may appear to have some official backing behind them, or they just may seem to offer impressive benefits.

People start to join and pay their money, but then at some point, the creator disappears with no trace. The funds are then disbursed to a different wallet or multiple wallets, where it becomes impossible to trace. Now, your money is gone and you have nothing to show for it.

This is known as a rug pull, which is one of the most common NFT scams. Even if you’re a savvy investor, it can be hard to avoid a rug pull because you don’t know if the person intends to deliver on their promise.

In 2021, NBA player De’Aaron Fox created an NFT project where the funds would be partially used to fund scholarships and other community-building ventures. In exchange, donors would get a signed jersey, be able to join a special chat room with Fox and more. Depending on the amount of money contributed, you could even get in-person or virtual meetings with Fox.

At first, the project seemed legitimate and promising. But a few months later, Fox announced that he had to halt the project because he didn’t have enough time to focus on it during the NBA season. The funds he had collected were worth about $1.5 million. They were drained from the main account a short while later.

Even though Fox is a real celebrity with credentials, that didn’t stop him from taking money from thousands of people.


Phishing scams have been around since the invention of the internet, and they’re a popular way to steal money with NFTs. They involve a scammer creating a near-identical version of a legitimate website or project and then stealing money without actually transferring any value or product.

Before you buy an NFT, verify that the website or page is legitimate. Do a separate Google search and make sure the URLs are the same. Don’t sign into an account from an email you received. Instead, go to that company’s direct URL and sign in from there.

What Else to Know about Investing in NFTs

When you’re investing money in an NFT, the most important thing to remember is not to spend more money than you can afford to lose. That way if you fall prey to a scam, you won’t get screwed. This principle also applies if the legitimate NFT you purchase loses value and you wind up selling it for a loss.

A good rule of thumb is to invest less than 5% of your portfolio in speculative investments, like cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

Go over how much you’re currently investing in these risky choices and figure out what percentage that is of your current portfolio. If it’s more than 5%, you may want to consider scaling back.

Also, you should never put money in an NFT that is earmarked for a short-term goal like buying a house, paying for a wedding or going on vacation. Investing in NFTs should be like fun money. If you make money, great. If you don’t, then it’s not a big deal. Buying an NFT is like buying a lottery ticket or betting on your favorite sports team – it’s a gamble, not a sure thing.

Even legitimate NFTs can lose value, just like other types of investments. That doesn’t mean they’re a scam, it just means that it’s impossible to predict where NFT values will go.

Remember, NFTs are incredibly new. Avoid listening to so-called experts who make bold predictions about which NFTs will become valuable. Like any kind of investing, there are no guaranteed wins.

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