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Utahns receive knock-off designer sunglasses, other items in unsolicited packages from China

Posted at 10:18 PM, Aug 11, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY – Mysterious packages from China are arriving at some Utah homes, delivering concerns and warnings of a new wave of "brushing scams."

The packages come just like any other piece of mail.

“We received this package from China,” one Utah resident said as she unveiled the contents of her gray-colored, plastic mailer. “Which was odd because we didn’t order anything from China.”

Inside the envelope, brightly colored mosquito repellent patches featuring funny faces.

“I may be paranoid, but who knows what is really on the patches?” she told FOX 13.

She isn’t the only one to receive an unsolicited package from the East.

“My wife said, ‘Hey, did you order some sunglasses?’ and I said, ‘No, I didn’t order any sunglasses,’” said Tooele resident Garret Rose, recalling his surprise package. “We looked at them and it says from Guangdong, China, and we were kind of shocked.”

“This is not something I ordered,” Rose continued. “We went through our order history, looked at our credit card statements, nothing was showing up that we ordered anything.”

Rose took a picture of the package and the designer RayBan sunglasses inside to share with a community group on social media. That’s when he realized he wasn’t the only one.

“Got mine last week,” one woman commented.

“Not my style so I gave mine to my wife,” another resident told FOX 13, sharing a picture of the familiar frames in a bright shade of teal.

The "new wave" of packages from China comes just two weeks after mysterious packages of seeds jettisoned to homes across Utah and the U.S.

“I got this black package and it’s wrapped in plastic,” said West Jordan resident Tiffany Smith. “It’s even got a phone number… it came directly to me and everything was spelled correctly, my address, everything.”

“I started looking at the package and then it said China,” she continued. “I remembered seeing something on the news about the seeds that everybody had been getting.”

Smith pulled the glasses out of their case. “It says RayBan,” she said as she pointed to a logo.

A quick glance at the packaging was enough to prove the shades weren’t authentic.

“Value, 10 dollars,” Smith laughed as she read the mailer. “So yeah, they’re definitely not real.”

In fact, all of the items people received — the glasses, mosquito repelling dots, even rings — were all relatively cheap. But they do have one thing in common: they are all part of what’s known as a brushing scam.

According to the Better Business Bureau, brushing scams have made a resurgence in the U.S.

Companies send out unsolicited packages and then have positive reviews written in the recipient’s name to boost online ratings.

The items are often cheap and lightweight, making them inexpensive to ship, and help to increase sales numbers.

“I started going through everything, but nothing is unusual, nothing strange came out of my account,” Smith said.

Smith said she still has the glasses because she doesn’t know who to report them to. According to the Federal Trade Commission, recipients are allowed to keep any package they receive, but not everyone has wanted to.

“It doesn’t feel right, there’s just some kind of ‘ick’ factor to it,” Rose said. “I just thought it was weird and out of place, so we decided to just contact our local police department and just say, ‘Hey, we got these weird sunglasses, what should we do?’”

At the end of the day, it may be "free" stuff, but BBB warns your privacy could be on the line.

“I’m definitely a little bit more hesitant because now my information’s there,” Smith said.

If you have received an unsolicited package from China, BBB recommends changing your passwords and reporting it to the FTC.