At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

Report unsolicited seed shipments

Numerous people in North Carolina have reported receiving unrequested shipments of seeds from foreign sources, and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is warning them not to plant any such seeds. 

The seeds could be a pathway for introducing invasive species, insects or plant diseases. They are likely being sent as part of an international internet scam known as brushing, in which third-party sellers use a person’s address and Amazon information to generate a fake sale and positive review, therefore boosting the product ratings. 

Seeds are not the only items used in this scam, as shipments could also include other inexpensive items such as rubber bands or plastic toys. 

It is illegal to send such shipments of plant material internationally, and anyone who receives one should save the contents along with all shipping labels and then contact the Plant Industry Division at 800.206.9333 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Receive our FREE Friday Xtra newsletter

Go to top