The case of mystery seeds in the mail is getting curiouser and curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland famously said.
States across the country are issuing warnings to not plant them, as they now begin to show up in the Cincinnati area.
Haleigh Hollin opened her mailbox the other day outside her Erlanger, Kentucky, home, and became the latest person to receive a mysterious packet of seeds addressed from China.
"I received a pack of seeds and thought they were a gift from my "pay it forward" group," she said.
But when Hollin checked with her family and Facebook friends, she found no one she knew had sent them.
"My mom said she thought that was just an internet scam, not a real thing," she said. "And I said, 'No, Mom, I really got them!'"
Just like with hundreds of similar cases nationwide, they came in a plain white mailer, with a Chinese postmark.
Inside were just some seeds in a clear bag.
"They look like little black seeds, almost sesame seed size," Holln said.
But the label said it contained jewelry.
"It says it is a bead, one bead," she said.
What you should do
If you receive a strange packet of seeds, authorities in all 50 states are now telling recipients not to plant them, in case they contain an invasive plant.
Ohio and many other states also suggest you mail them to your state's agriculture department for inspection.
But the Better Business Bureau believes it's not an attempt to seed America with man-eating plants, as in the musical Little Shop of Horrors, but rather is the latest version of what is called the "brushing scam."
It is a scam where Chinese sellers ship cheap items to boost their ratings on Amazon and Alibaba, the Chinese version of Amazon. They use the recipients' names to post fake, glowing reviews online.
Other recent brushing items include cell phone cases and a bag with a single face mask inside.
The BBB suggests changing your Amazon and other e-commerce passwords, just to be safe.
For recipients like Haleigh Hollin, however, it's all a bit creepy.
"Who is sending them? What's the point of them," she wondered. "Honestly, it seems really out of place. "
The good news: It does not appear there is any danger in this, or that you are specifically being targeted by criminals.
It's just that a seller found your name and address and is using you to boost their reputation.
As always, don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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