Apparently people in Tennessee and North Texas are receiving unordered packages from China with seeds in them. The FDA is warning people not to plant them. (Why someone would open anything they didn’t order is a totally different conundrum.) They are saying this is some sort of scam, but I am failing to see how.
I’m reminded of the Underpant Gnomes.
Send out seeds
Can anyone enlighten me on how this scam is supposed to work?
My initial thought about this when I heard the reports is this was not so much a scam ($) as an attempt to damage American agriculture. 1) send invasive seeds to US. 2) dumb Americans plant them to see what grows. 3) plants eventually escape captivity and cause problems for American farmers, making Chinese goods more in demand.
See this thread. The seeds being seeds is irrelevant–all they care about is having something light and cheap to ship. (Other stuff is being shipped, but there is no department of hairclips and plastic schoolbuses to put out warnings about those.)
That’s probably because hairclips and plastic schoolbuses aren’t living organisms that once planted or carelessly discarded might spread on their own.
I don’t think the seeds have been identified yet. I got an email from NYState Ag and Markets today asking people who get these things to send the seeds to them so they can analyze samples (people in other states should contact their own state’s equivalent, NYSA&M only wants the ones mailed to NY; I’ll send along the NY mailing address to anyone in NY who needs it, PM me.) They think it’s just a brushing scam, but they’re not taking chances.
I doubt the seeds are specifically intended to do damage; but even presuming that they aren’t, I also doubt that any scammer is taking the trouble to make sure the seed is of noninvasive species in the areas it’s mailed to and also that it’s not carrying any diseases that might spread in those areas. Quite a lot of people aren’t even aware of the issue.
Ah - so it’s sort of like spearphishing. You get this packet of seeds, the invoice says 18k Gold ring or something like that. You say to yourself, “Self, this ain’t no gold ring, but I bet if I call this number on the invoice, I might score a free gold ring out of it.”
Maybe it’s because my first job was in a mail room, but I’m still stuck on why someone would open an unexpected package from an unknown sender in the first place.
I would likely not know if a particular package was unexpected. Which part of which of the orders one of the people in this house made this week is this? Won’t know until I open it. Huh, who ordered seeds?
Yep - I got a pair of sunglasses that randomly turned up one time which I assume was a case of Brushing. Basically, if you have bought anything anywhere, anytime, there is a possibility that someone retained your name and address details for use in this technique.
The chances of actually tracing where they used the fake buyer account with your name on it is next to zero.
You don’t even have to have bought something online. Go on google maps, drop yourself in to some random spot in the US and note the address. Use whitepages . com reverse address search to get the name.
Granted, that’s a slow way and I’m sure there’s faster ways to do it (both legit and otherwise), but my point being buying something online isn’t required for your name and address to be found.
Hell, in Wisconsin you can go to our court access system, type in a generic last name and get everyone that’s ever interacted with the courts, along with their address in big list that you can easily drop into excel. (And, by ‘interact with the courts’ that goes beyond getting sued or divorced or other ‘legal’ things. Even getting a speeding ticket will put you on that website.