Overseas companies shipping unwanted packages to SF resident

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For the past few months, Lorena Siminovich has been receiving strange packages at her home in San Francisco. "I found these three packages that have my name and my cellphone number on them and they're items that I never ordered or looked at in my life."

Siminovich has received five packages since January containing plastic watches that don't seem to work, a flashlight, foam alphabet letters, and sneakers.

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The packages have very little return address or sender information and have come from various countries including China, Brunei and Kyrgyzstan. "It's like from Mr. Yan. That's it, no company, nothing," says Siminovich as she reads the sender label on one of the packages. "I just can't even wrap my head around the fact that somebody is shipping stuff across the world to somebody who doesn't want it or need it."

"This is sort of a new phenomenon with these coming from overseas," says internet safety expert, Larry Magid, who adds, "it's not necessarily dangerous but it is creepy."

Magid believes that Siminovich is a victim of something called "brushing," which is when companies send unsolicited packages to boost their sales appearance and presence online. Siminovich says she started receiving the packages after she ordered clothing from a Chinese company online.

"There are very low postage rates from China that are subsidized and it's almost like spam," explains Magid. "It does show that this company is shipping stuff and if you don't write down what it is they're shipping or you exaggerate the value, you could try to convince investors and others that it's a successful business because of all these packages that they're sending to the United States."

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ABC7 spoke to the U-S Postal Inspector in the Bay Area. He says the Postal Inspection Service is aware of "brushing" and their global security group will now be investigating the packages that Lorena received in the mail.

If you have received any concerning mail or packages, you can report it to the postal inspection service on their website or by calling their 24-hour number 877-876-2455.

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