PRESCOTT VALLEY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Last week Roman Bernal got a package delivered to his home in Prescott Valley.

“[It] says earrings. We already opened it up, but this was what was in it, it was these kinds of strange-looking seeds,” Bernal said in a video of himself with the package.

His girlfriend is part of a gift exchange group, so she often gets packages from people she doesn’t know.

“But this right here seems weird because it has all Chinese writing on it,” Bernal said. “They’re very tiny seeds. I didn’t know what they were. And it looked like there was a label placed on top of the original label on the little bag.”

Bernal’s not the only one with an unsolicited seed package from China. The US Department of Agriculture says people are getting them all over the country in what is likely a ‘brushing scam’ -- where online sellers try to boost their own sales by sending unsolicited items and posting fake reviews.

If you get unexpected seeds in the mail, don’t plant them.

“These seeds could be an invasive species that, then if planted, competes with the native species in Arizona. It could be a noxious weed, too, that’s harmful to humans,” said Chelsea McGuire with the Arizona Farm Bureau.

Russian thistle, better known as a tumbleweed, is an example of an unwanted, non-native plant that was introduced to Arizona somewhere along the way. The harm in these mystery seeds is that we don’t know what they are. They could potentially choke out Arizona crops like cotton, wheat, and corn.

“We just don’t want to find out,” McGuire said. “So we’d rather these seeds be disposed of properly, and the correct authorities deal with it.”

The Arizona Department of Agriculture is asking anyone who receives unsolicited seeds to send them – packaging and all – to one of their locations:

Arizona Department of Agriculture

ATTN: PLANT SERVICES DIVISION

1688 W. Adams

Phoenix, AZ 85007

Tucson Operations

Arizona Department of Agriculture

Plant Services Division

400 W Congress Ste. 124

Tucson, Az. 85701

Yuma Operations

Arizona Department of Agriculture

Plant Services Division

1931 S. Arizona Avenue Suite 4

Yuma, AZ 85364

Though it may be an obvious warning, the Farm Bureau is telling people not to eat the seeds. The u.s. postal inspection service also wants to hear from anyone who receives the strange packages. They can be reached at 1-877-876-2455 or uspis.gov.

 

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