What the Tech? Are the Mystery Seeds People Are Getting in the Mail Part of an Internet Scam?

What’s up with the mystery seeds showing up in people’s mailboxes. The seeds are shipped from China and delivered by the US Postal Service. But no one ordered them.

The package doesn’t say what they are, who sent them or any other information. It’s a mystery.

The Department of Homeland Security and the US Department of Agriculture warn people who’ve received these seeds from China that they should not plant them, or even throw them away in the trash as they may be for a plant that is harmful to our natural resources.

Is it some sort of international conspiracy or worse?

More than likely it is part of a scam called “Brushing”. Here’s how it works. A company that makes a product and sells it on Amazon or Ali Express, is trying to increase their chances of being seen by shoppers on those websites. In order to do that, retailers rely on stars and reviews.

The more stars and the more glowing reviews are seen by shoppers who are looking for something such as jewelry.

The scammers also obtain mailing addresses and names of people in the United States and Canada. They’ll ship the products to random people and then, write their own fake but glowing review of the product and use the name of the person they shipped it to.

In this case, the packets of seeds are in envelopes with a Chinese address and the label claims it contains jewelry. So likely, the scammers are selling jewelry but are shipping cheap seeds of some sort.

The mystery seeds are not shipped in Amazon boxes or shipped by Amazon at all. The companies are third-party retailers who list their products on Amazon but take care of the shipping themselves. Amazon never sees the products.

So what’s the harm? If you receive one of these packets of mystery seeds what does that mean? The scammers may have obtained your personal identification, maybe more information than just your name and address.

They may have gained access to your email address, Amazon username and password. So it is wise to change that password immediately before the scammers start ordering things from your account and sending actual merchandise to themselves.

The USDA also asks that you report any mystery seeds you may have received in the mail by contacting the USDA Anti-Smuggling Hotline at 1-800-877-3835.

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