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UPDATE: Georgia Department of Agriculture provides new guidance on seed scam

Metro ATL

UPDATE: Georgia Department of Agriculture provides new guidance on seed scam

Left: These seeds came in a package purportedly shipped from China. Right: The seeds inside the package. Do not plant these seeds. Images provided to Decaturish
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DeKalb County, GA — There’s new guidance for people who have received mysterious packages from China containing seeds.

This is a scam and people who receive the seeds should not plant them.

The University of Georgia DeKalb County Extension Office’s recent newsletter said that on July 27 the office received its first report of unsolicited seeds from China. It was delivered via the U.S. Postal Service. A resident in Tucker who received them emailed photos to Decaturish.com.

Here is the latest guidance for people who receive these packages:

 On the GDA website there is now a form/survey to be completed by the seed recipient. The seeds should now be shipped to APHIS in Atlanta (not Tifton or Griffin).

USDA APHIS PPQ

ATTN: SITC Officer
1220 Toffie Terrace

Atlanta, GA 30354

If the client does not want to ship the seeds, the last link below described how to dispose of them (or the plants if they planted them).

General details:

https://unsolicited-seed-package-reporting-hub-ga-agriculture.hub.arcgis.com/

Survey form:

https://unsolicited-seed-package-reporting-hub-ga-agriculture.hub.arcgis.com/app/f00290427566477ebe5a230d35a9f4ac

how to dispose of seeds if not shipped:

https://ga-agriculture.maps.arcgis.com/sharing/rest/content/items/80795e47658c471aa20ce7dced6d2a37/data

APHIS stands for Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture believes the packages are part of a “brushing scam.” According to the Better Business Bureau, a brushing scam involves sending unwanted products to people in an attempt to boost sales statistics.

“The companies, usually foreign, third-party sellers that are sending the items are simply using your address that they discovered online,” the BBB says. “Their intention is to make it appear as though you wrote a glowing online review of their merchandise, and that you are a verified buyer of that merchandise. They then post a fake, positive review to improve their products’ ratings, which means more sales for them. The payoff is highly profitable from their perspective.”

For the person who receives the seeds, it’s a warning that people have their personal information and may be using it in other forms of scams.

“The fact that someone was able to have the items sent to you as if you purchased them indicates that they probably have some of your personal information such as your name, address, and possibly, your phone number,” the BBB says. “Once the information is out there on the internet, it could be used for numerous crooked enterprises.

“The fake online review angle is only one way they benefit. By using the brushing scam, they also are increasing their sales numbers. After all, they aren’t really purchasing the items, since the payment goes right back to them. Increased sales numbers, even though padded with fake purchases, look good for the company and help lead to more sales.”

The BBB advises people targeted by these scams to notify the retailer that sent the packages, if applicable, and to change their account passwords.

“This may be a sign that personal information has been compromised and to improve account security, keep a close eye on credit reports and credit card bills,” the BBB says.

 

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