Packets with mysterious seeds have arrived in Brazil alone or accompanied by other products purchased in Chinese e-commerce. At least 258 cases of unsolicited receipts have been recorded in 24 Brazilian states, shows a recent survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (Mapa).
The practice has had repercussions in recent days and has generated an alert to the risk of contamination. He still does not know why these seeds have reached Brazilian homes, however, authorities are already working with the possibility that the practice is part of a fraudulent scheme known as brushing.
Brushing can explain the sending of mysterious seeds
It works like this: a marketplace shopkeeper obtains – often illegally – his personal data. With this information in hand, they make fake purchases on your behalf and send seeds or objects of little value. Their goal is to increase reputation within e-commerce giants, such as Amazon, Alibaba, Ebay, among others, and thus gain more visibility with new customers.
When shipping the product, stores have it. When the alleged item appears as delivered to the recipient, the shopkeeper then makes a positive assessment and the company responsible for the marketplace understands that everything is fine.
“There are still other variations involved, such as sending an additional product to what the buyer asked for in order to obtain a better evaluation”, says Arthur Igreja, FGV guest professor and specialist in Innovation and Technology, in an interview with Tecnoblog.
“A negative point involves consumers who have not ordered the products and are receiving them. And that is what is happening in Brazil. This may show a data leak, as it is possible to obtain the address, full name and e-mail of consumers ”.
Brushing frauds had repercussions in 2015, when the American newspaper Wall Street Journal denounced the illegality within the Chinese giant Alibaba.
However, this practice has not emerged recently. “Brushing has been around for at least 18 years,” explains Hiago Kin, president of the Brazilian Cyber Security Association (Abraseci), to the Tecnoblog.
“The brushing techniques are being updated, as the evaluation mechanisms of shopkeepers advance, seeking to avoid new frauds: the level of anti-fraud rises, and soon the fraudsters also raise their strategies. It is like in this most recent case of seeds, which, due to the low cost, weight and volume, manage to offer a good versatility of postage so that the fraudulent storekeepers can fulfill the requirements of the marketplaces ”.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, almost 34,000 packages of seeds and other items were intercepted in the first half of this year. The folder talks about 26,111 destruction, 2,383 returns / returns to the sender and 5,240 releases.
During this period in which mysterious seeds gained even more prominence in Brazil, a survey by the Brazilian authorities shows that Santa Catarina is the state with the highest number of cases (39), followed by Rio Grande do Sul (32), Paraná (32), Rio de Janeiro (28) and Goiás (18).
In addition to Brazil, cases have been reported in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Portugal.
Brazil in the crosshairs of Chinese e-commerce
Brazil arouses a lot of interest in Chinese e-commerce. So much so that, with the coronavirus pandemic, many of these companies started to invest in more agile logistics to reduce delivery times. In June of this year, the Post Office of Brazil and China made an agreement to speed up shipments even during the crisis.
A study by Ebanx reveals that AliExpress and Wish are Brazilians’ favorite platforms for international purchases. The most searched categories on these sites are electronics, clothing and beauty items, respectively.
“Brazil is a major consumer of products on these platforms, being among the countries that most buy. Many people buy from a Chinese website and several platforms need to position themselves better. And not by coincidence, but the brushing has happened in countries that have the largest mass of buyers in the online environment ”, says Igreja.
Care when receiving packages
Local authorities do not recommend planting these seeds or disposing of them in general waste. If you receive packages with seeds, the consumer must immediately send them to the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply or to a state agricultural entity.
“In order to prevent your data from leaking on the internet, it is important that the consumer uses trusted sites and does not provide his data for any website or application, or electronic form, thus maintaining control of his information. If it is possible to identify the platform responsible for the intermediation of the purchase made by the brushing practitioner, it is possible to notify that platform and request the deletion of its data ”, guides Alan Thomaz, lawyer specializing in Digital Law.
THE Tecnoblog sought out the Chinese Embassy in Brazil, but we did not get a return until the publication of this report.