A great enigma worldwide has authorities such as the US Department of Agriculture and health authorities of Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia in full investigation. Mysterious seed packages are reaching homes in those countries without having been ordered and with false senders.
So far about 14 species of seeds have been shipped from fake senders via China State Mail.
During the month of June, the United States Department of Agriculture began receiving similar messages from agricultural authorities in various states regarding the receipt of seed packages. The common point was their origin, China, and the false sender.
Mustard, bluebells, cabbage, roses, rosemary: 14 different species of seeds have been identified so far.
Faced with the strange fact, the USDA issued a series of public warnings: do not eat the seeds, do not plant them, make the complaint.
The news of what happened in the US reached the media and had a global impact. so it was that agricultural authorities in other countries contacted USDA. The method of sending the seeds was also taking place in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The bogus senders were mostly from China, but some also claimed to be from Malaysia, Uzbekistan, the United Arab Emirates, and the Solomon Islands.
Currently the four countries are investigating the mystery, which was only complicated when the United States requested information from China: Wang Wenbin, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the senders on the labels of the Chinese state mail that USDA had sent as samples were false. Beijing also requested that the US Postal Service (USPS) return the packages to China for an official inquiry. USPS has made no representations in this regard except that it finds “in consultation with other federal, state, and local agencies”.
Speculations on shipments
While the USDA is still analyzing some samples of the seeds speculating that they could be invasive species that threaten local flora and crops, or introduce disease, or harm livestock, among others, the agency said it has no evidence that packages are more than just a form ofscam called brushingblow dry).
Brushing is a practice in which a seller creates fake accounts, but with real addresses, on retail e-commerce sites, to fake sales and thus, at the same time, increase the volume of their business and leave reviews to themselves excellent. Other times the accounts of real buyers are hacked and numerous operations are added, which are not charged, but allow to show an activity that makes the seller rise in the search engine ranking, in such a way that their articles appear among the first of the list of results. Also another modality is that people are paid to make false purchases and reviews.
The origin of this deception is given by the ranking system of online shopping platforms such as Amazon, eBay, Etsy or Alibaba. To rank among the best, a seller has to accumulate operations and reviews, and reviews can only be made on products purchased and shipped.
Declarations of victims
In an interview conducted by a channel in South Carolina, USA, nurse Angela McGirk recounted her experience with the arrival of one of these mysterious packages: “I assumed it was the seeds, I had read an article about those that came from China. But this one came from Malaysia. It was marked as a small toy”. Opening it, he found the seeds with a note presenting them as a gift and requesting a five-star rating.
If you receive an unsolicited shipment of foreign seeds in the mail from China or Taiwan DO NOT plant or dispose of them. Call the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) at 519 691-1306 or 1 800 442-2342. Unsolicited seeds could be invasive & threaten our environment. ^ kj pic.twitter.com/n5hvlFS1W8- OPP Central Region (@OPP_CR) July 28, 2020