New Brushing Scam - Unsolicited Packets of Seeds
Please be aware of a new Brushing Scam that is targeting U.S. residents by sending them unsolicited packets of seeds.
Brushing is a deceitful technique sometimes used in e-commerce to boost a seller's ratings by creating fake orders. Sometimes a seller will do this by paying someone a small amount to place a fake order, but sometimes the seller will just use another person's information to place an order themselves. Because a shipment usually has to take place for an order to be considered valid, the seller will frequently ship an empty box or some cheap item. These fake orders, if unnoticed, can boost the seller's rating, which can make it more likely that their items will appear at the top of search results on e-commerce sites.
A recent twist to the Brushing Scam involves residents receiving mysterious packets of seeds with instructions to plant them. The seed packets typically do not have a label or any indication as to what the seeds are. The United States Department of Agriculture is urging residents NOT to plant any mysterious seeds they may receive. Should you receive any seed packets that you know you did not order, you are asked to keep the packet sealed and contact the USDA at the confidential Anti-smuggling Hotline number at 800-877-3835 or by sending an Email to SITC.Mail@aphis.usda.gov. USDA will make every attempt to protect the confidentiality of any information sources during an investigation within the extent of the law.
For more information on these unsolicited packets of seeds being received see the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture website: