Confused residents in Tayside and Fife have received packets of seeds, gold rings and other items through the post – without ordering them.
Reports of gold rings in velvet jewellery boxes being sent to people in Angus have been emerged in the past two weeks, with no explanation why.
The orders all had Chinese names or addresses listed as the senders.
Those receiving them did not order them, don’t know the people who sent them, or why they were delivered to their addresses.
Brechin woman Lauren Moir, 29, was puzzled to receive a cheap gold ring through the post, from a sender in the Chinese city of Yichang.
She said: “I got a ring sent a couple of weeks ago. I asked at the bank in case someone was spending on my account but there was nothing unusual that he could see.
“There’s been loads of people on my Facebook said the same.
“I shared something about seeds getting sent – about 20 people commented saying they got rings or sunglasses through the post.”
One person speculated that the items were linked to people on Amazon, eBay or other websites sending them to boost their seller ratings – known as “brushing”.
Most e-commerce sites rate sellers by multiple criteria, and display these seller ratings to customers.
Since a good rating can boost sales, these ratings are very important to sellers. The number of items sold is usually an important factor in that rating.
Brushing consists of generating fake orders to boost the rating. A seller can do this by using another person’s information to place an order themselves.
Because a shipment usually has to take place for an order to be considered valid by the e-commerce site, the seller will frequently ship an empty box or some cheap item.
These fake orders, if unnoticed, can boost the seller’s rating, which can make it more likely that their items will appear at the top of search results on e-commerce sites.
It is illegal in all parts of the UK to create fake reviews under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which prohibit unfair commercial practices.
Lauren added: “I also heard it might be through eBay.
“It’s addressed to me and it’s not like I ordered anything and been sent that instead. The bank said some scammers do that.”
Another Angus woman said “A sparkly gold ring got delivered over the weekend, addressed in a black velvet box from China”.
The person said it had their partner’s name and phone number on it, but again she no idea why it was sent to her home.
Three other people in Angus reported receiving similar rings around the same time, also in velvet boxes of different colours
None of those who received the items said any money had been taken from their bank accounts.
Meanwhile, others have reported receiving packets of seeds in the post, also apprently of Chinese origin.
One woman in Kirkcaldy who received a bag through the post told the Tele: “I binned them straight away because I’d seen people in plant groups talking about receiving weird seeds and the potential dangers.
“I’d thought it was mainly Americans receiving them but apparently people everywhere are receiving them.”
Rural Matters, a page on Facebook, posted a warning to those who received seeds in the post, with guidance from Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).
It said not to plant the seeds and to let SASA, which is overseen by the Scottish Government, know.
Chief plant health officer for Scotland, Gerry Saddler said: “Plants and seeds should always be sourced responsibly from known suppliers and anyone who has received seeds which they have not ordered should report the matter to the Scottish Government’s SASA division.
“It is important not to open these packages and that these seeds are not planted or composted as it is possible they could be carrying plant pests or diseases that are a harmful risk to our plant life and the environment.”
If you have received seeds in the post that you didn’t order please report them to firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be…
The National Farmers Union (NFU) Scotland added updated advice today for those who have planted the seeds, saying: “Following contact with Scottish Government, it urges those who have received AND PLANTED seeds to take the following actions.
“Place the growing plant(s) and surrounding soil/compost in a plastic bag, place this bag inside another plastic bag, seal securely and dispose in your general waste bin (destined for landfill).”
Police Scotland said they had not received reports of unsolicited parcels being received in Tayside.