At least 27 states in the US have reported mystery packages containing seeds from China, and it has now gone global. The US, Canada, Australia and the UK are now all investigating amid concerns they could introduce a biohazard or an exotic plant disease.
Officials in all 52 states and other jurisdictions are urging residents to report any unsolicited packages of seeds that appear to have been sent from China, warning that they might be invasive or otherwise harmful
State agriculture officials in Virginia warned, “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 packages appear to be arriving randomly.
The packages may be tied to a fake product review scam, known as ‘brushing.
‘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 in Ohio said.
Experts in North Carolina agreed.
‘According to the Better Business Bureau, foreign, third-party sellers use your address and Amazon information to generate a fake sale and positive review to boost their product ratings,’ said Phil Wilson, director of the plant industry division for North Carolina’s department of agriculture.