State reports mislabeled seeds being sent by mail

From staff reports

The state Department of Agriculture on Tuesday warned consumers to properly discard and report unordered and mislabeled seeds shipped from overseas.

According a department news release, consumers nationwide have received seeds in packages labeled as jewelry. The seeds could contain plant diseases, weeds or invasive plants that could harm Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry and ecosystem.

“Seeds sold in Pennsylvania are rigorously tested to ensure that they are genetically pure and regulated to ensure that what’s on the label is what’s in the package,” state Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said.

Seeds labeled as jewelry are likely a scam known as “brushing,” according to the release. Companies boost online sales by purchasing their own products through fake buyer accounts created by the company.

The products are shipped to someone who didn’t order the item, the release said. The seller writes a positive review of their items from the fake buyer account.

Scammers also have been known to send empty packages, the release said. However, recent packages have been filled with unlabeled seeds.

Anyone receiving such packages should call the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s confidential Antismuggling Hotline, (800) 877-3835, or send an email to USDA will provide further instructions.