The Better Business Bureau has issued a warning about marijuana scams that could take your money and/or deliver questionable products.

Why Would Anyone Buy Marijuana Online?

Scam artists are diabolically brilliant about their scams and the latest, involving phony online marijuana dispensaries, is no exception. Why would you buy marijuana online, you ask? There are dispensaries practically on every corner. But that's the brilliant part of this scheme - the phony sites are labeled as local. So, unless you really check into them, you might think that you're buying from a business in your community.

How Does It Work?

The Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker says these fake shops make up legitimate-sounding fees to cheat customers out of their money. It starts when you search online for a local marijuana dispensary that may even offer delivery. You call the phone number listed on the site and get a real person who takes your order, paying through some sort of digital wallet app like Zelle or CashApp. This is when the 'employee' tells you that there's an additional fee, usually a deposit for delivery insurance. The fee is typically a few hundred dollars that the scammer says will be returned to you once the delivery is complete. You pay and they disappear.

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In another scam, the bogus company takes your money and actually delivers a product. This one is potentially even more dangerous because you have no idea what you're getting. The BBB says one consumer put an edible in their mouth and tasted chemicals while experiencing a burning sensation. They threw the products away.

Is There a Way We Can Protect Ourselves From Falling Victim?

There are some things you can do to avoid falling victim. The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips:

  • Do your homework and research the business before even making that phone call. And don't go to the 'reviews' on their site because they're probably fake. One way to test the legitimacy of a site is to search the business's name online followed by the word 'scam.' If possible, drive by the address given in the site and see if there's actually a brick-and-mortar location.
  • Avoid using digital wallets as a payment option. Once you transfer that money, it's gone. You won't be able to get a refund. Instead, consider using your credit card which will usually allow you to dispute fraudulent charges.
  • Try to avoid paying for products or services before you receive them. If they won't take payment upon receipt of the product, consider visiting a local dispensary, in person, so you know it's legitimate.

If you become a victim of a scam or suspect that a site you've visited isn't legitimate, report it to the Better Business Bureau's Scam Tracker.

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