Delaware is now part of a federal investigation after residents reported being sent mysterious packages from China with plant seeds and other inexpensive items in them.
Delaware officials say about 20 residents have reported that they were sent these items but never ordered them. They say it’s likely part of a brushing scam which is when shippers send out low-cost items at their own expense in order to rank higher on e-commerce sites. Brushing helps the seller create a more legitimate appearance on their profiles.
Officials say if you do get something like this in the mail do not plant or throw the seeds in the trash. “The packages are not labeled what seed it is. We don’t know if it’s fruit, vegetables, an invasive species and if it is something invasive that we do not currently have growing in Delaware we certainly don’t want to introduce something that is not native to Delaware,” says Jessica Inhof, the Plant Industries Program Administrator with the Delaware Department of Agriculture.
Maryland, Virginia and at least nine other states are also investigating similar cases. Officials say if you received a package with seeds leave everything inside the envelope. You’re then asked to report it to the Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance Program by calling the Smuggling Hotline at 1-800-877-3835.