Amazon drivers — all gig workers who don’t work for the company — are hanging cell phones in trees near Amazon delivery stations, fooling the system into thinking that they are closer than they actually are:
The phones in trees seem to serve as master devices that dispatch routes to multiple nearby drivers in on the plot, according to drivers who have observed the process. They believe an unidentified person or entity is acting as an intermediary between Amazon and the drivers and charging drivers to secure more routes, which is against Amazon’s policies.
The perpetrators likely dangle multiple phones in the trees to spread the work around to multiple Amazon Flex accounts and avoid detection by Amazon, said Chetan Sharma, a wireless industry consultant. If all the routes were fed through one device, it would be easy for Amazon to detect, he said.
“They’re gaming the system in a way that makes it harder for Amazon to figure it out,” Sharma said. “They’re just a step ahead of Amazon’s algorithm and its developers.”