Did you receive seeds in the mail? Don't plant them, North Carolina Department of Agriculture says

If you received seed shipments that you did not order from China or other foreign sources, you should not plant them, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says.

The department has been recently contacted by people who have received the seeds, which officials say are likely the product of an international internet scam known as "brushing."

"According to the Better Business Bureau, foreign, third-party sellers use your address and Amazon information to generate a fake sale and positive review to boost their product ratings," said Phil Wilson, director of the Plant Industry Division, in a news release.

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According to the department of agriculture, the seeds could be a pathway for introduction of invasive species, insects and plant diseases.

"Seeds are just one of the items used in this scam, however, you could receive other inexpensive items such as rubber bands, plastic toys, or empty bags," Wilson said.

Anyone who received one of these unsolicited foreign shipments is asked to save the contents along with all shipping labels and contact the Plant Industry Division toll free at 800-206-9333 or email at newpest@ncagr.gov. Plant Industry staff will contact you to gather information and pick up the package.

North Carolina residents are not in violation of any regulations if they received these shipments, but they are the key to identifying and stopping future shipments.
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