A brushing scheme planted throughout the High Country is beginning to take root, and cooperative extension offices are concerned.

We should be concerned, too.

Typical brushing schemes involve e-commerce sellers using phony accounts to buy products in order to leave positive reviews because many sellers won’t allow a review without a purchase, or will label a review with the term “verified purchase,” which lends credibility and trust to the product.

Anyone who has purchased something online or has their information on the internet — in other words, nearly all of us — is ripe to be targeted for such a scam.

The current scheme is one that has been circulating in the High Country, but is escalating — seeds from a package labeled “China Post” have been found in dozens of mailboxes.

The seeds in the package do not indicate an immediate threat to personal safety, but could be devastating to local agriculture if planted seeds turn out to be an invasive weed or plant, carrying eggs or larva, or an invasive disease.

Such a threat has happened before in North America, notably with the Chestnut Blight fungus that eradicated the chestnut tree population in America in less than four decades.

Because of this, seeds that arrive in the United States from foreign areas must go through a strict vetting process. If you receive an unexpected package of seeds labeled as above, or that haven’t been properly processed, law enforcement advises that you do not open the package, but take it immediately to the sheriff’s office.

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