Hoosiers report receiving unsolicited face masks from China

DANVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — At least two Hoosiers reported receiving unsolicited face masks from China amid a federal investigation into unsolicited seeds shipped in similar packaging.

James Rowings washed his hands after handling the masks. (WISH Photo)

James Rowings, an attorney at Hinkle Law Firm in Danville, said he received a package containing five pleated masks in individual plastic bags. 

The masks are black and have a texture similar to coated denim.

The plastic mailing packet was addressed to Rowings at the law firm and appeared to be sent from a warehouse in Shanghai.

“It’s nothing that I ordered. It just showed up unannounced. I haven’t gotten any emails to indicate an order was placed,” the attorney told News 8.

It arrived Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture and all 50 states issued warnings about unsolicited seed packets from China that had appeared in more than a thousand mailboxes nationwide.

The seeds “appear to be delayed packages due to COVID-19, not brushing [scams],” an Amazon spokesperson said in an emailed statement to News 8.

Amazon officials did not immediately respond to questions from News 8 about the unsolicited masks.

Rowings wondered if his name and information had been shared by a China-based Amazon seller he previously ordered from.

He purchased a webcam from the seller in February to facilitate virtual classes at Ivy Tech Community College, where he teaches as an adjunct faculty member.

The product never arrived.

“My brother in St. Louis says he got a package of masks like this, too. But his were white and he only got three,” Rowings said.

On Wednesday, the Anderson Police Department in Indiana received a call from a resident who claimed they also found three unsolicited masks in the mail, a police spokesperson said.

U.S. Postal Service officials did not immediately respond to emails from News 8.

Rowings reported the masks to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s fraud prevention unit and was advised to throw them away, he said.

State and federal authorities had not yet confirmed investigations into the unsolicited masks Thursday night.