Unsolicited face masks from China arriving in Florida mailboxes


TAMPA, Fla. (News Nation/WFLA) — Face masks from China are showing up – unsolicited – in Tampa Bay area 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 facemasks and no note.

“I was afraid to even open it after I saw it,” she said. “I didn’t want to keep it in my house.”

Sharp threw her package in the trash and knew she should contact News Nation’s affiliate WFLA’s Better Call Behnken to spread the word.

The Federal Trade Commission and Better Business Bureau 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, yet 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.

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