The state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is advising residents not to plant any seeds received in the mail from China or other foreign sources that they did not order because these seeds could introduce invasive species, insects and plant diseases.
The department has been contacted by numerous residents who received the seeds, which are likely the product of an international internet scam known as “brushing,” officials said Monday in a news release.
“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 in a statement. “Seeds are just one of the items used in this scam, however, you could receive other inexpensive items such as rubber bands, plastic toys, or empty bags.”
While this type of international shipment of plant material is unlawful, residents are not in violation of any regulations if they received these shipments. They are the key to identifying and stopping future shipments, according to the department.
The department is asking anyone who received one of these unsolicited foreign shipments to save the contents along with all shipping labels and contact the Plant Industry Division toll free at 800-206-9333 or email at email@example.com. Staff will coordinate with you you to gather information and pick up the package.