Officials in at least four states 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.
The agriculture departments in Washington state, Louisiana, Kansas and Virginia have issued statements in recent days, noting that residents had reported receiving packages of seeds in the mail that they had not ordered. Based on photos, the seeds appear to have been mailed in white pouches displaying Chinese lettering and the words "China Post."
Some of the packages were labeled to say they contained jewelry, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Packages of seeds have also been sent to residents in Utah, Arizona and Ohio, according to local news reports.
Officials are warning people not to plant the seeds.
"Unsolicited seeds could be invasive, introduce diseases to local plants or be harmful to livestock," the Washington state Department of Agriculture said.
Police in Whitehouse, Ohio, where a resident reported receiving seeds, said the packages appeared to be a part of a "brushing" fraud.
"A brushing scam," the 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."
The seeds did not appear to be "directly dangerous," the department said.
New York Times