Heaven McGeehan awoke one morning to find an unexpected package from China delivered to her Pennsylvania home.
It was a small epacket — a special subsidized shipping option that the USPS offers Chinese merchants, effectively enabling them to ship a parcel from China to the U.S. for less than it costs to send that same parcel domestically — and when she opened it she found a small handful of black hair ties with cheap plastic hearts that had the word “Phoenix” emblazoned upon them.
She was bewildered. The package was clearly addressed to her — her name was correct and so was her address — but she wasn’t the one who placed the order and had no idea why someone in China would send it to her.
Then the following day it happened again: another unordered package from China arrived containing the same item. Then it happened again the following day, and again, and again, and again without end until the small, unsolicited parcels began piling up in McGeehan’s home.
“I receive at least one a day, sometimes multiple,” she explained.
She then sent me a photo of the haul that came in while she was away on a recent 7-day vacation:
Stack of hair ties that Heaven McGeehan received during a 7-day vacation.
Now that the intrigue is gone, McGeehan says that she just throws her “gifts” from China in the trash — where they probably belong.
But why are people in China sending some random woman in Pennsylvania free hair ties? Why would anyone put in the time, money, and effort to send a stranger on the other side of the world free stuff?
It’s called brushing, and even in China it’s illegal.
Chinese agents shipping ridiculous amounts of hair ties to McGeehan is merely an unscrupulous way for them to fraudulently boost sales and obtain positive feedback for their clients’ products on e-commerce sites.
Basically, a “brushing” firm somehow got hold of McGeehan’s name and address — she imagines this happened from placing legitimate orders on AliExpress, the international wing of China’s Alibaba — and then created user profiles for “her” on the e-commerce sites that they wish to have higher sales ratings and favorable reviews on.
They then shop for orders via the fake account, compare prices, and mimic everything an actual customer would do, before finally making a purchase from their client’s store. When delivery is confirmed, they then leave positive reviews that appear to the e-commerce platform as “verified.”