HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture is warning consumers to throw away any unordered seeds they may have received in the mail.
The Secretary of Agriculture says people nationwide have received seeds that have been shipped from overseas in packages labeled as jewelry. The seeds may contain plant diseases, weeds or invasive plants that could cause damage to Pennsylvania’s ecosystem and agriculture.
“Planting seeds without knowing what they are can wreak havoc with our environment, destroy agricultural crops and incur costly control efforts for years to come,” said Secretary Russell Redding.
The scam is known as “brushing”. Companies can boost their sales by purchasing their own product through fake accounts. The packages are sent to real addresses, to someone who did not order them. The seller even includes a positive review of the items within the package.
The Department of Agriculture says scammers have previously sent empty packages, but are now filling them with unlabeled seeds.
Anyone who receives unordered seeds are asked to keep the seeds inside the packaging. If opened, reseal the seeds. Do not plant them or throw away loose seeds.
If received, report the package to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) confidential anti-smuggling hotline at (800) 877-3835.