People are reportedly receiving mysterious packages of seeds in the mail from China

A miller holds buckwheat's seeds in his hand on November 6, 2017 in Guehenno, western France.
(Image credit: FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

In this week's edition of "2020 continues to get even weirder," Americans are apparently now receiving random, unsolicited packages of seeds in the mail.

U.S. officials are looking into reports that "hundreds of residents have received seeds in the mail they didn't order" that "appear to have mostly originated from China," The Wall Street Journal reports. There have been reports of people receiving the unexplained packages in at least eight states, according to CBS News.

The United States Department of Agriculture says it's aware that "people across the country have received unsolicited packages of seed from China in recent days." Officials are warning residents not to plant the seeds should they receive them.

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One possible explanation for this strange phenomenon, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services says, is that it's a "brushing" scam, in which "companies send unsolicited goods to individuals and then post fake, positive reviews of the items on the recipient's behalf," the Journal explains. Some of the packages were evidently labeled to look like they had items like jewelry or earbuds in them.

But Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain told the Journal that "I don't think anyone has determined what’s really going on here," adding that if the seeds "are invasive or contain plant pests or disease, from an agricultural point of view, that is our greatest concern." Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles was similarly unsure about what's going on, telling CBS News, "At this point in time, we don't have enough information to know if this is a hoax, a prank, an internet scam or an act of agricultural bio-terrorism."

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.