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In a scenario perhaps revolving around gems or germs, or bacteria or bling, packages of potentially dangerous seeds mislabeled as jewelry from China are mysteriously showing up in random mailboxes around the U.S.
The unsolicited envelopes have reportedly shown up so far in Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. A similar phenomenon has occurred in the U.K.
Authorities have warned recipients that under no circumstances should they plant the seeds, which could be invasive and harm the environment. Instead, they should notify officials, and in the meantime, avoid opening the sealed packaging containing the seeds.
According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “Invasive species wreak havoc on the environment, displace or destroy native plants and insects and severely damage crops. Taking steps to prevent their introduction is the most effective method of reducing both the risk of invasive species infestations and the cost to control and mitigate those infestations.”
State and federal authorities are investigating. Anybody receiving these packages should contact their state agriculture agency immediately for follow-up testing.
In an alternative theory that has nothing whatsoever to do with a potential biohazard, a Better Business Bureau official in Utah has suggested that the deliveries are part of an Internet scam called “Brushing.” This sketchy technique merely involves certain unscrupulous vendors sending out fake orders as a way to subsequently generate fake online reviews.
It’s unclear at this point how the purported scammers obtained or targeted the specific U.S. addresses of those to whom they decided to ship the unwanted seeds.
There might also be other, more benign explanations, given that a massive number of consumer products of all kinds sold online are sourced in China.
In the U.K. where gardening is extremely popular, hundreds of horticulturists have received seeds purportedly of origin in China. This difference is the packages apparently aren’t necessarily labeled as containing a bracelet or ring. British authorities have launched an investigation, and customs officials are attempting to intercept any further uninvited parcels upon their arrival in Britain.
“The mysterious packages have been posted to customers who previously made legitimate seed purchases through sites such as Amazon marketplace and eBay,” the Daily Mail reported.
An environmental expert told the news outlet that “‘Whatever you do, don’t grow them.’ If packages are not sent to investigators, he urged people to burn them or wrap multiple times before disposing in the bin.”
“Amazon said…an undisclosed number of sellers have been suspended from trading via its marketplace after an investigation,” the Daily Mail added.
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