Residents in Oregon and Washington recently got unexpected and unwanted gifts in the mail. The packages seem to come from China, and are showing up on doorsteps across America.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is reportedly working closely with the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection, and State departments of agriculture to learn more about the suspicious packages.
USDA is urging anyone who receives one of these packages to immediately contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture or APHIS state plant health director. They also ask that recipients keep the seeds and packaging, including the mailing label, until someone from the state department of agriculture or APHIS contacts you with further instructions.
USDA warns that the seeds should not be planted.
The suspicious packages are currently suspected to be part of a “brushing scam,” where people receive unsolicited, inexpensive items from a seller who then posts fake customer reviews on the behalf of the unsuspecting receiver in order to boost future sales. Some packages are labeled as containing items such as toys, jewelry and electronic accessories.
More information about these packages is expected as the agriculture department continues to collect the packages and seeds. It has not been determined if the packages contain anything that could possibly be dangerous to the environment or U.S. agriculture such as invasive plant species.
Visit the APHIS’ website to learn more.
By Emily Weninger