LUBBOCK, TX — People across Texas and the U.S. have been baffled by the arrival of mysterious packages from China that they claim to have never ordered.
A few days ago Shannon Gutierrez arrived home to find a package from China with a label claiming it was underwear.
“I would never order underwear from China,” said Gutierrez.
But when she opened the package it actually contained face masks, which she hadn’t ordered either.
Mysterious packages from China have been showing up across the country, with some receiving jewelry or socks, but most commonly the packages contain seeds.
Dr. Kevin Ong, Director of Texas A&M’s Plant Disease Diagnostics Laboratory, says that anyone who’s been mailed these strange seeds should not plant them
“We don’t want to take the chance with something that might be alien or that might be potentially invasive to get out into our environment,” said Ong.
It’s unknown why these mysterious packages have been arriving, but the Better Business Bureau said it could be part of a brushing scam.
A brushing scam is when companies send consumers unsolicited items in order to improve their ratings. Ong said while the people receiving the packages don’t solicit them, they could be a user of a purchasing service.
“The individual receiving it may be a registered user of an online purchasing service,” said Ong.
Gutierrez says she’s ordered products from China before and has never had an issue, but the BBB has warned these unsolicited packages could be a sign your identity has been compromised.
“Folks that might have been affected should look at their online accounts and change their passwords immediately,” said Ong. “This is not something new, but I think what triggered the red flag is the scope of it, the number of people reporting.”
Gutierrez hasn’t noticed any problems with her accounts and said for her, it was all in good fun.
“Maybe they are just playing a joke on us, I don’t know, maybe they just wanted to get giggles out of us. I found it amusing. You don’t ever know what you are going to get from China,” she said.
The United States Department of Agriculture said to not plant any unsolicited seeds you receive in the mail or throw them away, and ask for people to send them to specified USDA locations for proper disposal.
The closest location is in Dallas, but there are five overall:
Attn: Janet Ussery, Officer in Charge
P.O. Box 610063
Dallas, Texas 75261
Attn: Elias Gonzalez
100 Los Indios Boulevard
Los Indios, Texas 78567
Attn: Gerardo Gonzalez
120 San Francisco, Bridge II Complex
Building 5, Room 505
Laredo, Texas 78045
Attn: Alejandro Gammon, Officer in Charge
19581 Lee Road
Humble, Texas 77338
Attn: Harald Grieb
3600 E. Paisano Drive
El Paso, Texas 79905