MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — When Anthony Woodard went to get the mail outside his Murfreesboro home Monday, he noticed a strange package with a return address from China, listing jewelry as the contents.
“It was marked as a ring and my daughter orders jewelry from overseas,” Woodard said. “We thought it was something for my daughter.”
Woodard’s wife opened the packaging and noticed the envelope was filled with seeds.
“We heard about the seed thing,” Woodard explained. “We immediately closed it up, stuck it in double bags, stuck it in a mason jar and got on the internet and researched it.”
With similar reports of unsolicited seeds delivered all over the United States, Woodard and his wife were not taking any chances.
“I have an immune system that’s compromised because I have cancer,” Woodard said. “I kind of thought Holy smokes, I need to get this thing sealed up and, you know, because you never know what’s in it or was coated on the outside or whatever.”
He added, “I don’t want to be paranoid, but I think I have a right to be paranoid at this point.”
Upon further investigation, the USDA has said its believes the seeds could be a “brushing scam,” where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews in an attempt to boost sales.
Any Tennessean who gets those unsolicited seeds in the mail is urged not to plant them or throw them directly into the trash, but instead, seal them in two plastic bags and send all packaging to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, attention: Plant Certification. The original envelope as well as any paperwork or enclosures and the bag of seeds should be included along with the recipient’s name, contact information and full address: Mail to P.O. Box 40627, Nashville, TN 37204 or send via UPS or FedEx to 436 Hogan Road, Nashville, TN 37220.
If a person prefers not to send in their seeds, notify the Tennessee Department of Agriculture by calling Plant Certification at 615-837-5137 or emailing Plant Certification Administrator, Anni Self at firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide your name, contact information, and where you live, as well as what you received and any photos.