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Amazon’s latest PR stunt involved fake packages and a failed sting operation

It’s only a matter of time until Jeff Bezos is faking coups to sell sneakers.

Amazon facial recognition rekognition software
Image: WUNC

Most of us have probably had a package stolen at one point or another. Amazon alone ships over 1.5 million packages a day, and UPS handles nearly ten times that. Theft is one of the risks we all accept at the cost of convenience, for better or for worse.

Amazon is well aware of this fact. It knows that a package being stolen looks a hell of a lot better than it being late, and that projecting this fear is a great way to inject doubt into a customer’s mind. Perhaps that’s why, according to documents obtained by Vice, Amazon collaborated with a local law enforcement agency for one of the weirdest PR stunts you’ll ever hear about:

New documents obtained using a Freedom of Information request show how Amazon, Ring, a GPS tracking company, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service collaborated on a package sting operation with the Aurora, Colorado Police Department in December. The operation involved equipping fake Amazon packages with GPS trackers, and surveilling doorsteps with Ring doorbell cameras in an effort to catch someone stealing a package on tape.

Yep, Amazon is so desperate for good PR that it’s resorted to “having people arrested” to get the headlines it wants.

The operation, which transpired in December of 2018, was dubbed “Operation Grinch Grab.” Amazon’s endgame, it seems, was to not only engender itself with local law enforcement agencies but boost sales of Ring doorbell cameras (a company which Amazon bought out for a cool billion last year) while manipulating everyday customers into thinking that more of their packages were being stolen than they actually were.

The best part? IT DIDN’T EVEN WORK.

“As of now, we have not yielded any arrests,” Aurora Police Department captain Matthew Wells-Longshore wrote in an email. “I’m not sure if I should be happy or sad about that! Ha. Maybe happy that no one in the areas we are in are victims of package theft but sad that we won’t be able to showcase an arrest.”

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon used footage from a sting that actually did work to pimp Rings earlier this month. I’d highly recommend reading the whole Vice piece when you get a chance if you’d like to know the absolutely insane lengths some companies are willing to go for a sale.

What do you think? Surprised by this move from Amazon or does nothing involving the company surprise you anymore? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Writer. Editor. Barelyknewer. Hate mail can be directed to j j o n e s @ k a r s f o r k i d s d o t e a r t h l i n k

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