Investigations are underway by the US Department of Agriculture after a number of people reported receiving unsolicited packages from China. Sometimes marked as jewellery, the packages actually contained mystery seeds, and warnings have now been sent out to alert people not to plant them.
There are fears that the ploy may be part of a larger scam.
American residents have been receiving mysterious packages of seeds in the mail from China – and authorities are urging people not to plant them.
Along with a statement, the United States Department of Agriculture also issued warnings across 27 states to residents to withhold from opening or using the seeds. I guess we’ve all been a little more engaged with nature and gardening throughout isolation, but people are urged to refrain from planting the seeds as there is no indication of what might grow, leaving open the possibility of spreading of diseases.
Although, officials also admitted there was little chance the seeds were actually dangerous and it’s more likely they’re part of a larger scam in which the large distribution of a product improves the seller’s rating, making them appear higher in rankings online.
“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,” the Whitehouse Police Department statement described.
Luckily, as per usual, the internet had trouble taking the situation seriously:
We have received reports of people receiving seeds from China that they did not order. If you receive them – don’t plant them. Report to @USDA_APHIS at https://t.co/0U53rbAiHs pic.twitter.com/Y4yAKv5bk7
— WA St Dept of Agr (@WSDAgov) July 24, 2020
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) July 25, 2020