TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – More reports of mysterious and unsolicited foreign seeds arriving in Florida mailboxes are piling up at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“They’re not labeled correctly so if consumers were to put these in the ground then they could be invasive species or noxious weeds,” said Christina Chitty from the FDACS Division of Plant Industry.
The State of Florida has received more than 800 reports of the seed deliveries as of Wednesday, Chitty said.
Residents in more than 22 states have received the mysterious seed packages.
“I think it’s weird,” said Marilyn Harvey, who received the package.
She was perplexed when she saw the pumpkin-like seeds that she knew she didn’t order.
“Just has my address on it and it doesn’t say anything else. Description doesn’t have anything. It just says ‘untracked,’” she said. “It does have a name on there – where it came from – China.”
Harvey didn’t take out the seeds or plant them. She reported them, just as officials suggest.
“We request that you just not even open the packaging and call our helpline,” said Chitty.
Officials believe it’s what’s called a “brushing scheme.”
“It is a scam where companies push out product or information to people that didn’t necessarily order that product and then post fake reviews on their behalf,” said Chitty.
If you receive them, don’t open them, plant them or throw them away. Place the seed packet and mailing materials into a sealable plastic bag and contact the FDACS Division of Plant Industry at 1-888-397-1517 or DPIhelpline@FDACS.gov.
“We will take your information and schedule pickup for that specimen,” said Chitty.