Strange packages have been sent to people in multiple states, seemingly random, unidentified seeds from China. In some cases, the packages were labeled as containing jewelry or another similarly attractive content.
Agriculture officials in Louisiana, Kansas, Virginia, Utah and Washington State are urging residents not to plant the seeds.
Packages of seeds have also been reportedly sent to residents in Arizona, Kentucky and Ohio, according to local news reports.
“Today we received reports of people receiving seeds in the mail from China that they did not order,” the Washington State Department of Agriculture said Friday. “The seeds are sent in packages usually stating that the contents are jewelry. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants, or be harmful to livestock.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) has been notified that several Virginia residents have received unsolicited packages containing seeds that appear to have originated from China. The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species. The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.
Please do not plant these seeds. VDACS encourages anyone who has received unsolicited seeds in the mail that appears to have Chinese origin to contact the Office of Plant Industry Services (OPIS) at 804.786.3515 or through the ReportAPest@vdacs.virginia.gov email.
Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.
The situation seems to be similar in Utah. Fox13 covered the story earlier this week.
The police in Whitehouse, Ohio, where a resident reported receiving seeds, said the packages appeared to be a part of a “brushing” scam.
“A brushing scam,” the police department said on its Facebook page, “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.”
Any strange packages of seeds should be reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.