5 On Your Side

First seeds, now sunglasses. 5 On Your Side explains the latest mail delivery scam

First, seeds arrived randomly in the mail. Now: sunglasses! 5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte looks into the odd scam behind it all.

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Monica Laliberte
, WRAL executive producer/5 on Your Side reporter

First seeds arrived randomly in the mail. Now people are receiving sunglasses they didn’t order. Art Paschal recently found such a package in his mailbox.

"I don’t ever order anything," Paschal said, laughing. "Then I brought it in, saw it was to me and kinda got a little excited, you know I got something in the mail."

Until he opened the envelope.

"And saw these what were supposed to be Ray Bans (designer sunglasses) but were obviously knockoffs, pretty cheap imitations not a very good imitation at all," he said.

Paschal’s package arrived out of the blue, from China. That concerned his wife.

"She was little more panicked about them than I was," said Paschal. "She brought out the sanitizer and wiped them down. I wasn’t quite at that level of concern."

But he is concerned about information that was on the package.

"My telephone number is on the outside of the envelope, they got my address right, my name spelled right. If they’ve got that, it makes you think well, do they have anything else?"

Paschal was in the same situation as families who contacted WRAL after receiving unordered seeds in the mail. Others report getting ping pong balls and masks.

"It’s something to kinda scratch your head over," Paschal added, "and just wonder about how someone can profit from that. I’m not sure."

They’re called brushing scams.

The name stems from sellers who used to pay fake buyers or brushers, aka polishers, to write glowing reviews for products to boost online rankings and increase sales.

Retailers cracked down.

Now, sellers send cheap items that are lightweight and inexpensive to ship, in order to hijack your name and information as a verified buyer, to show a shipment happened and give themselves a great review, ultimately boosting sales. Experts say it works, creating another motivation for the sellers: The boost can inflate a company’s financial information, which can then impact investors.

As for where the sellers get your information, it could come from any number of places.
Some experts fear the packages could be an indication you’re part of a data breach.

Paschal says he’s now watching his accounts, especially his credit cards, "I’ve not seen anything suspicious after the fact," he said.

Know, whatever you receive is yours to keep.

For those who received seeds, the USDA warns not to plant them, fearing they could harm crops or spread a disease.

As for Paschal’s knock-off Ray Bans, he said, "My wife threw them away."


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