Warning Michiganders: Don’t Open This Package If You Receive It In The Mail!
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is warning Michiganders not to open unsolicited seed packets that may arrive in the mail. Once again, the MDNR has been receiving reports of these mysterious seed packages from China, arriving in an unsuspecting person’s mailbox.
Similar cases were reported in 2020, leading the U.S. Department of Agriculture and MDARD to warn residents who receive these packages not to open or plant the seeds.
So, What’s The Deal With These Seeds?
Mike Philip, director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division, warns,
These unknown seeds could be invasive, introduce disease to local plants, or be harmful to livestock. If planted, these unknown and potentially invasive species could have a very negative impact on the environment. Additionally, we’re asking people not to throw the seeds or packages away or dispose of them.
Philip says that USDA testing of these packages has identified hundreds of varieties of seeds, ranging from noxious weeds, to cannabis, to a wide array of vegetable and flower seeds. In fact, if you ever receive unsolicited seeds from another country, do not open or plant the seeds!
Why Are These Seed Packages Being Sent?
Basically, it’s a scam. These surprise “freebies” that may arrive at your doorstep could be part of a “brushing scam". According to the MDARD, a brushing scam is an exploit by a vendor used to bolster product ratings and increase visibility online by shipping an inexpensive product to an unwitting receiver and then submitting positive reviews on the receiver’s behalf under the guise of a verified owner.
Yikes! What Do I Do If I Receive A Mysterious Seed Package?
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection and Quarantine Smuggling, Interdiction and Trade Compliance Unit is currently investigating this situation across the nation. If you receive an unsolicited package of seeds from China, hold on to the seeds, packaging and mailing label, and contact the MDARD Customer Service Center, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., at 800-292-3939 or via MDA-Info@michigan.gov.