I-Team 8

Indianapolis woman keeps receiving unsolicited seeds

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Cassandra McCreery is running out of freezer space.

Unsolicited seed packets mailed to her mother are piling up beside her meat and ice cream.

She planned to ship the mysterious packages to authorities but decided to save postage money by waiting until the mailings stopped. They haven’t.

Seed packets have continued to appear in her mailbox at least twice a week since mid-July.

“It’s like a lottery of seeds,” McCreery told News 8.

Most Hoosiers who reported receiving similar seed packets said they got one or two shipments. 

At least 25 packets containing unsolicited seeds have been sent to the west-side home McCreery shares with her mother. The shipping labels suggest the packages originated in China and are all addressed to McCreery’s mother.

She may have won the seed jackpot, McCreery joked.

“Safety is my concern. We’re getting all these seeds. What do they actually do? I just want to know why we’re being targeted,” she said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture began investigating reports of unsolicited seeds from China in July.

By September, the agency received more than 10,000 emails and 1,000 phone calls about the seeds. Authorities collected 8,937 seed packets sent to residents in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

“We believe packages (received by people who did not order seeds) are part of a brushing scam, where an online merchant creates false buyer accounts and posts positive reviews of their products to boost their rating,” a USDA spokesperson said in an email to News 8.

The agency previously advised Amazon customers who receive unsolicited seeds to change their passwords on the vendor’s website.

McCreery’s mother does not have an Amazon account but recalled purchasing items from Wish.com, another e-commerce site.

Kathy Stover, a Kokomo resident, reported receiving two seed packets several months after ordering gardening supplies from Wish.com. She also did not purchase anything from Amazon.

Federal authorities said they “intensified engagement” with e-commerce companies to ensure sellers who use their platforms comply with USDA regulations.

Wish.com responded to an inquiry from News 8 with instructions on how to request a refund.

“I can imagine that this must be an incredibly disappointing experience,” the emailed response said.

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