HARRISBURG (Newsradio 1020 KDKA) - Officials are warning of unordered and mislabeled seeds being shipped to people from overseas.
The Pennsylvania Agricultural Secretary Russell Redding says that consumers across the country are getting seeds in the mail labeled as jewelry.
Seeds may contain plant disease, weeds or invasive plants that could harm the ecosystem and agriculture industry.
“Seeds sold in Pennsylvania are rigorously tested to ensure that they are genetically pure and regulated to ensure that what’s on the label is what’s in the package,” Secretary Redding said. “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.”
The scamming practice is known as “brushing”. Companies will boost online sales by buying their own products from fake buyer accounts that are created by the company.
The items are then shipped to someone who didn’t order them and the seller writes a positive review of their product from the fake buyer account.
Previous scams featured empty packages but now many are filled with unlabeled seeds.
If you receive a package of seeds in the mail you are asked to retain the seeds and packaging and if opened, double bag the seeds and do not plant them or throw away the loose seeds.
You are then asked to report the package to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s antismuggling hotline at 1-800-877-3835 or email the USDA.