A strange scandal broke in the mailboxes of Americans across the country.
From New York to Washington state, an increasing number of people have recently reported receiving unsolicited shipments of seeds – which appear to have been shipped from China.
The US Agriculture Department says that tickling packages form part of a “brushing scam” – where people get items they never order from a seller, who post incorrect customer reviews to boost sales.
The agency is urging residents to report packages and issue warnings: “Do not plant seeds of unknown origin.”
Here is everything you need to know about the secret sugar seed:
How do they look?
According to images shared by the authorities, the packages look like standard mail – in light gray or beige envelopes.
Some labels state that packages are rings, bracelets or other jewelry – when they are actually clear, sealable plastic bags filled with unknown seeds of various shapes, sizes, and colors.
A New Jersey lawyer told NJ.com that the package he received was named “Bonsai”.
Who is getting them?
According to CBS News, residents in all 50 states have reported receiving suspicious bundles.
Several local agriculture departments, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, said they had been informed about who received the package.
The New York State Agriculture and Markets told The Post on Thursday that it had received more than 500 reports of shipments. It is unclear whether anyone was sent to New York City.
Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball said in a statement on Monday, “Our office has received questions from some New Yorkers who have received packages allegedly sent from China marked as jewelry (or other items), But which actually contains the seeds of the plant. “
“Similar packages have been received in other states and the United States Department of Agriculture is investigating.”
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Nikki Fried, Said on twitter The state received more than 600 suspected seed packages on Tuesday.
Where are they coming from?
The packages appear to “come from China,” according to USDA. On Monday, the agency said it had “received unwanted packages of seeds from China across the country.”
Shipping labels also indicate that they are being shipped from China, including from Suzhou, a city in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province and other regions.
But Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin insisted on Tuesday that the country’s postal service tightens for restrictions on sending seeds.
He claimed that the records on the packages proved to be inaccurate and asked him to be sent to China for investigation.
What are the risks?
Some states, including Washington and Alabama, have characterized the shipments as “agricultural smuggling”.
Agricultural officials say it is important for people not to sow seeds so as not to plant invasive species that can displace or destroy native plants and insects, severely damage crops, or diseases. Can bring.
“Seeds imported into the United States meet stringent standards to ensure quality and prevent invasive species, insects, and diseases,” the NYS Department of Agriculture said in a statement.
“Those who receive seed, which they did not order, who are misguided, or are from a suspicious source, should not plant or handle the seed,” it warned.
What should you do if you get them?
The USDA said that anyone who receives the unsolicited package should immediately contact the local plant regulatory authorities or the animal and plant health inspection service in their state.
“Please hold seed and packaging, including mailing labels, until someone from your Department of Agriculture or APHIS contacts you,” the agency said in a statement.
In the meantime, the seeds should be kept safely in a place where children and pets cannot reach, officials said.
Authorities in New York said they are asking residents to email the USDA directly to [email protected] due to an overdose inquiry.
The USDA said it would test the seeds and determine whether anything could happen to American agriculture or the environment.
With post wires