WADSWORTH, Ill. — Mysterious seeds sent from foreign countries are being shipped to homes here in Illinois, and agriculture officials are warning those who receive them not toss them out or plant them.
The Dekalb office of the Illinois Department of Agriculture apparently received more than 100 calls about deliveries in the past day or so regarding the seeds.
Calvin Cox got a box at his Wadsworth home. The first bag of seeds came months ago.
“In March when I received them from Bishkek Kyrgyzstan, I was just not sure who sent it to I just put it on the shelf in the garage,” he said.
He said on Monday, he received another package filled with seeds shipped apparently from China.
“The others look like small birdseed, the small round ones, and they’re purple, bright purple so that’s a little unusual, the ones from China,” he said.
It turns out these are being shipped across the country including in the Chicagoland area.
Greg Koeppen, Executive Director of the Lake County Farm Bureau said they’ve received several calls in the last day or two, and it’s alarming.
“The big concern to us is we don’t know what these seeds are and that’s the question that we have in the Ag community,” Koeppen said. “They could be an invasive species, they could introduce a new disease into our system, they could harm our livestock if they grow and they eat that when they are grazing.”
However, this could just be part of a “brushing” scheme to inflate online reviews.
“They will send out random packages to unsuspecting individuals,” Koeppen said. “The post office then will scan that that package was delivered in a timely fashion so it looks like it was a good sale, that overseas company will then go back into the fake account and leave themselves positive reviews saying it was great shipping or that product arrived as described.”
But to be safe, Koeppen said anyone who gets the seed should not throw them away.
“Because by throwing them away they’re going into the landfills where they have the moisture, they have the soil where they could grow and sprout there as well,” he said.
Officials say if you receive seeds in the mail you did not order, do not open the package and instead contact your state’s department of agriculture so they can investigate.