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WVLT anchor Alan Williams sent seeds from China

The envelope, addressed to Williams’ wife, was labeled as ‘beads’ and were sent from the Solomon Islands
Unsolicited seeds
Unsolicited seeds(WVLT)
Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 10:56 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Just four days after the Tennessee Department of Agriculture issued a warning about unordered seeds showing up in mailboxes across the state, WVLT anchor Alan Williams received a similar package.

The envelope, addressed to Williams’ wife, was labeled as ‘beads’ and were sent from the Solomon Islands. The package showed up Friday afternoon despite neither him nor his wife ordering any.

According to TDOA officials, it’s not clear who is behind the packages or what their intent is, but the leading theory is that they are part of a “brushing scam” - when third-party sellers send people items they didn’t order and write glowing product reviews on their behalf.

“At this time, we don’t have any evidence indicating this is something other than a ‘brushing scam’ where people receive unsolicited items from a seller who then posts false customer reviews to boost sales,” the USDA said in a statement on Tuesday.

“While we have no reason to suspect at this time that these seeds were sent with ill intention, we want to take every precaution to be sure an invasive or otherwise threatening plant species doesn’t take hold here,” TDOA officials said.

Officials said anyone who receives seeds they did not order should seal them in two plastic sandwich bags and send them to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, to the attention of Plant Certification at P.O. Box 40627 Nashville, TN 37204. TDOA officials said residents sending in seeds should include their name, contact information and address.

Anyone who does not want to mail the seeds is asked to notify the Tennessee Department of Agriculture that you received unsolicited seeds, call Plant Certification at 615-837-5137 or email our Plant Certification Administrator Anni Self at anni.self@tn.gov.

Individuals who choose not to ship the seeds are asked to double bag the seeds and put them in the trash. The seeds should not be composted.

Officials said anyone who planted the seeds should immediately pull them up, double bag it and throw the plant away.

Copyright 2020 WVLT. All rights reserved.

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