Consumers have submitted numerous reports to BBB Scam Tracker about scams targeting customers of marijuana dispensaries in U.S. states where sales are legal for medicinal and/or recreational purposes. These phony shops make up legitimate-sounding fees to cheat customers out of their money. Learn how these scams work, so you can spot them before making a payment.
How the scam works
You do an online search for a local marijuana dispensary and find a new place that seems legitimate. They may even offer home delivery.
At first, everything seems normal. You call the dispensary and place an order. Then, you make a payment through a digital wallet app like Zelle or CashApp. However, the company then informs you that you need to pay another fee. In most BBB reports, the “dispensary staff” insists that the extra money covers “delivery insurance” or is standard for all new clients. The fee is typically a few hundred dollars, but the scammer promises you’ll receive a refund once the delivery is complete.
Don’t fall for it! Once you make a payment, the person you spoke with will disappear, and the company becomes unreachable. If you’ve sent the money through a digital wallet app, it’s unlikely you can get it back.
In similar scams, con artists take your money but deliver fake products. One consumer purchased edibles from a reputable-looking company. However, when the product arrived, “I threw the packages away after putting one of the edibles in my mouth, tasting chemicals, and experiencing a burning sensation.” Not only can imitation products cost you money, but they can also be harmful to your health.
How to avoid similar scams
- Research businesses before making a purchase. Look up marijuana dispensary reviews on third-party websites before trusting them with your business. Keep an eye out for reports of scams or poor customer service. Look up a dispensary’s name along with the word “scam” to find reports of shady business dealings. If possible, visit the company’s brick-and-mortar store before buying anything from them.
- Use digital wallet apps with caution. Keep in mind that sending money through digital wallet apps is essentially like paying cash. If you find out you were scammed after sending money, you won’t be able to get a refund. The best practice is to use digital wallet apps only with people and businesses you know and trust. The safest way to make a purchase is to use your credit card since credit card companies usually allow you to dispute fraudulent charges.
- Don’t pay for services or products before you receive them. While you may need to pay in advance for products that will be delivered to your home, try not to do this with a business with which you aren’t familiar or one with poor reviews or none at all. Scammers often ask consumers for payment for products that don’t exist and then disappear.
For more information
If you spot a scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help other consumers recognize scams and avoid falling victim.