Federal authorities are looking into mysterious packages containing seeds that some people are receiving in the mail.
Over the past month, there have been reports from all 50 states of people getting the unexpected deliveries, many postmarked from China, with various unmarked seeds.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has now issued a warning, urging Americans not to open the packages or plant the seeds.
In a statement, the USDA says it "is currently collecting seed packages from recipients and will test their contents and determine if they contain anything that could be of concern..."
Don Robison works for the office of the Indiana state chemist. He says, “China would have different diseases than we do in their plant culture, and those diseases we don't want introduced in the United States.”
Federal authorities say the packages could possibly be part of an international retail scam known as "brushing", where foreign or third party sellers send people products they didn't order, then use their information to write fake, positive reviews online.
Nancy Profant received a package from overseas. She says, “It was just weird. On the package it does say jewelry. A lot of people are saying that is say jewelry. This says a ring on it.”
Shelly Duffy got a package at her California home two months ago. “I wasn't expecting anything,” she says. “Inside it was just a tiny one by one clear package sealed and it didn't look like seeds.” She reported it to her county's agriculture commissioner.
Officials are urging other recipients to do the same and asking people not to throw away the seeds because of potential harm to the environment.
So far, the USDA has no evidence the seeds are an act of bioterrorism.
Officials say Americans who have received the mysterious packages should change their online passwords.