Mystery masks: Unsolicited face masks from China arriving in mailboxes

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — First, it was mystery seeds. Now, face masks from China are showing up unsolicited in Florida mailboxes. And they are not gifts.

Shan Sharp, of Clearwater, was stunned when she went to the mailbox recently and found a package she wasn’t expecting.

“I looked at the label and it had Shanghai, China from a certain district,” she said. “All of this information, including my cell phone number, (was) on there.”

Sharp carefully opened the envelope and discovered two packages of face masks and no note.

“I was afraid to even open it after I saw it. I didn’t want to keep it in my house,” said Sharp, who threw her package in the trash.

The FTC and BBB say this is a scheme called brushing. Sellers get your address, username or even Amazon profile, and send you unsolicited items, usually lightweight and cheap.

They then use your name to post false consumer reviews to boost their sales. Given the ongoing pandemic, Sharp says the facemasks are particularly puzzling.

There have been reports of not only seeds and facemasks but also jewelry. Sometimes the package is a box of facemasks, while some people report receiving only a single facemask.

The good news is this scheme is not expected to cost you money, but some unknown company could be using your likeness to boost their presence and reputation online. The FTC recommends that you change all e-commerce passwords if you receive packages from China that you didn’t order.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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