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Delaware among states receiving mysterious seed packages from China

Courtesy of the Delaware Department of Agriculture

The state Department of Agriculture says several Delawareans have reported  receiving unsolicited packages of seeds in shipments from China — as have residents across the country.

The packages were sent by mail, and they may have Chinese writing on them.

Jessica Inhof, the state plant regulatory official with the Department of Agriculture, and says this is part of an e-commerce scam.

"It's called a brushing," she said. "It's an e-commerce scam that is used to boost seller ratings by selling items of low monetary value to other people that did not order them and at no charge but then the seller turns around and gives himself a 5-star rating on Etsy or eBay and it bumps up their sites for selling."

Inhof says whatever you do, just do not plant them.

"The seeds could be an invasive species that we don't want in our state so we are asking everyone to not plant them," she said. "The program will investigate what kind of seeds they are and where they came from the envelope is actually the crucial part because the envelope will have the shipping information and they can back trace that to find out who is the sender."

Inhof adds do not throw the seeds away because they will end up in a landfill. 

At least 26 other states have issued similar warnings to residents.

Have you received a package of seeds matching this description? Report the shipment to the Smuggling Interdiction and Trade Compliance Program or SITC by calling the smuggling hotline at 1-800-877-3835.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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