Tags: China | seeds | internet scam | mail | brushing

China Plant Seed Packages Could Be Part of 'Brushing' Internet Scam

open packet of seeds lying on a table
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 28 July 2020 12:03 PM

Packages of seeds allegedly being sent to American homes from China could be part of a fake product review scam, according to police and other officials.

The unsolicited seed deliveries prompted agriculture departments in at least 31 states to issue warnings against planting them, Fox News reports.

Officials say the packages appear to have been shipped by China's state-owned postal company and contain Chinese lettering on the exterior, which advertises products ranging from jewelry to toys.

But the packages don’t contain what the lettering suggests. Inside the package is random plant seeds. 

“Obviously they’re not jewelry,” Lori Culley, a resident from Tooele, Utah, told Fox13 after she opened a package.

Local agriculture departments are asking people who receive the seeds to report it and not plant them in case they are invasive or harmful. 

"We have done some researching and it does appear that these seeds are tied with an online scam called ‘brushing,’” the Whitehouse Police Department in Ohio wrote on Facebook. “A brushing scam is an exploit by a vendor used to bolster product ratings and increase visibility online by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and then submitting positive reviews on the receiver's behalf under the guise of a verified owner.”

“Although not directly dangerous, we would still prefer that people contact us to properly dispose of the seeds,” the department added.

North Carolina's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also said the deliveries are "likely the product of an international Internet scam.”

On Monday, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services spokesperson Michael Wallace told The New York Times that the agency has received “over 900 emails and several hundred telephone calls” from people who reported that they received the seeds.

Florida agriculture officials say they logged 160 reports about the seeds. 

Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain told the Times that some of the packages sent to residents look like they contain seeds for water lily plants.

“At this time, we are not sure what the seeds are and therefore are urging everyone to be exceedingly vigilant,” Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said in a statement. “If you have received one of these packages in the mail, please use extreme caution by not touching the contents and securing the package in a plastic bag.”

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US
Packages of seeds allegedly being sent to American homes from China could be part of a fake product review scam, according to police and other officials. The unsolicited seed deliveries prompted agriculture departments in at least 31 states to issue warnings against planting...
seeds, internet scam, mail, brushing
383
2020-03-28
Tuesday, 28 July 2020 12:03 PM
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