Chinese 'brushers' send unordered parcels to British homes

Underground gangs of Chinese ‘brushers’ are bombarding British households with cheap goods they did not order in order to boost the prominence of online retailers.

The banned practice, known as brushing, is illegal in China and the fake sales can improve a company’s rankings on online sites such as Alibaba.

Some hack individual users’ accounts to order goods, while people in Britain have been left baffled after simply receiving items without their knowledge.

Underground gangs of Chinese ‘brushers’ are bombarding British households with cheap goods they did not order in order to boost the prominence of online retailers.Stock image

The gangs take a fee from retailers, send cheap designer goods to British homes, then often leave good reviews on their websites to boost their reputations

Many initially fear they have fallen victim to credit card when they received the cheap, often counterfeit goods through their doors. 

Melinda Simmons, who received two fake Nike sweatshirts from China, told James Gillespie for the Sunday Times that she found the situation ‘mystifying’. 

The gangs take a fee from retailers, send cheap designer goods to British homes, then often leave good reviews on their websites to boost their reputations.

Increasing sales boost their online presence, making the vendor easier to find in the highly competitive world of online retail, leading to more sales.

One agent, Mr Wang, who runs a ‘brushing group’, claims to make more than £1,000-a-month from the business, reviewsprotocol according to the Wall Street Journal.

The groups are set up online, with low-level members called ‘blue horses’ being issued with instructions from ‘red horses’, who take orders from the retailers.

This means that the people who send the parcels do not have direct contact with the retailers, who can increase their reputation ten times faster by using the method.

Brushers, who masquerade as ‘promotion companies’, try and mimic the behaviour of real buyers, comparing prices online and using numerous delivery addresses.

The banned practice, known as brushing, is illegal in China and the fake sales can improve a company’s rankings on online sites such as Alibaba.Stock image

After the purchase, it is common for the brusher to leave a positive review to boost the retailer’s reputation.

Protocol for a systematic review on the effect of demand ...

But the process is banned in China, and sites such as Alibaba — the country’s biggest ecommerce company — are taking steps to actively combat it.

The company vowed to take action due to hugely inflated sales on promotion days that have aroused international suspicion, including form the US Securities and Exchange Commission. 

The company’s Taobao site deletes fake sales and positive reviews, and can remove their products from its online search rankings or even shut the vendor’s online store.

It can also issue fines of up to 70,000 yuan (£2,350) and the vendor risks losing their security deposit, which can be anything up to 150,000 yuan (£17,625).

Serious examples can also lead to criminal convictions.