Mysterious shipments: ‘Brushing scam’ to blame for shipments of seeds, other products

TULSA, Okla. — Experts say what’s called a “brushing scam” is likely to blame for the mysterious shipments showing up at people’s doors -- including in Oklahoma.

First reports of seeds allegedly sent from China were coming out, and experts warned recipients not to plant them for they’d be risking damage to local ecosystems.

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Since then, people have gotten more items like masks, clothing and electronics.

Experts say these are examples of brushing scams that have seen a spike during the coronavirus pandemic.

Scammers are said to likely be masquerading as those who are receiving the items in online marketplaces -- giving those products that arrived high ratings.

Anyone who receives a product that they didn’t buy should reach out to the online retailer and report it, change their password on that site, and watch for fraudulent charges on their credit card accounts.

The Federal Trade Commission says recipients have a legal right to keep the items they’ve been sent, even if they didn’t order it.

OSU Extension says if people have received seeds or bulbs that they can drop them off at their local county’s extension who will ship them to the USDA for evaluation.