The strange seed situation sprouting up across the United States might be part of a “brushing” scam, officials said.
Authorities in multiple states have recently warned citizens not to open unsolicited packages containing seeds that may have been sent from China.
In an update this week, the Whitehouse Police Department in Ohio offered a potential explanation for what’s going on.
“We have done some researching and it does appear that these seeds are tied with an online scam called ‘brushing,’ ” the department wrote in a Facebook post.
“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 post continued.
“Although not directly dangerous, we would still prefer that people contact us to properly dispose of the seeds.”
Officials in Kansas, Louisiana, Virginia and Washington are among those who have warned residents about the circulating seed packages and urged recipients not to plant them.
Some officials have said the seeds appear to have been sent from China.
“The types of seeds in the packages are unknown at this time and may be invasive plant species,” the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said. “The packages were sent by mail and may have Chinese writing on them.”