Vaping is rising in popularity and the more popular it gets the more vapers will be targeted by scammers. Many vapers purchase their e liquids and hardware online. There are many advantages to online shopping but there are potential hazards too. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a huge increase in online shopping and that has inspired a rise in fraudulent activity.
Our Guide to Delivery Scams highlights phishing scams and how to spot them. But there are many other ways which fraudsters could use to relieve you of your cash. It has never been more important to buy your vaping gear from a retailer you know and trust. Here are the scams to look out for and how to avoid becoming a victim:
This unpleasant activity victimises those who make use of online marketplaces such as eBay. The fraudsters capitalise on marketplace regulations. The seller sends the parcel to the right address but deliberately puts the wrong addressee on the label. Many recipients will refuse the parcel, believing it isn’t for them. But when they reject the delivery, they lose their right to a refund for the goods failing to arrive because they have rejected the parcel.
The incorrect name scam is hard to avoid if you make purchases from online marketplaces. It’s difficult to know who you are really buying from and any good reviews may not be authentic. It’s best to choose carefully who you buy from and to test the water with a small purchase initially. If you are making a costly purchase, only buy from the ecommerce sites of reputable retailers that you can trust.
The empty box scam has been around for some time but still works. Fraudsters literally sell consumers empty boxes. They can do this by stating somewhere in the product listing that the item being sold is just the box. Anyone purchasing in a hurry who does not read the listing properly will be disappointed when their parcel arrives.
You can avoid this trick by always reading product listings carefully and in full. As these types of cons are usually associated with what appear to be bargains, remember the old adage about things that seem too good to be true.
Watch out for this one! You will be offered a free e-cig but asked to enter your payment card details. You receive your free device which will likely be of poor quality. After a short time, you will find that you are being charged regularly for refills. You can then try to cancel your “subscription”, but the seller will probably have disappeared. You may end up having to cancel your card to free yourself of the ongoing payments.
You should always read the terms and conditions of any free trial because your bank is unlikely to compensate you for signing up to such a scheme. Ridiculously cheap deals are usually scams and so it is always worth checking out the seller or retailer before you take the plunge. If the scam has been operated for some time, it will likely be mentioned in vaping forums and will feature in Google search results.
You might associate counterfeiting with expensive luxury goods. But this type of fraud is not restricted to high value products. E Liquids are popular worldwide, and you will find counterfeit versions of popular choices such as Hangsen and Vampire Vape flavours together with fake brands that you don’t recognise. These e liquids will not be of the same quality as the genuine articles and will not have been subjected to any testing. Fake juice could feature harmful chemicals and the nicotine strengths stated on the packaging may not be accurate.
Here’s what you should think about before purchasing e liquids:
It is always best to buy your juice from a retailer you can trust. There are millions of bottles of counterfeit e liquid on sale and you really don’t want a single drop of fake juice to find its way into your tank.
You will also encounter fake electronic cigarettes and batteries. These are potentially dangerous, and they certainly won’t deliver the performance and longevity you are looking for. Here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
Always ensure that the retailer you are purchasing from is genuine. If you are responding to an advertisement that features a link to a website, it’s best to ignore this and enter the website address yourself directly into your browser. Fake addresses are usually very similar to the authentic ones but will often have just one or two different letters.
It is often possible to spot a fake website via the images it features. Fraudsters will make use of stock images, the images of other businesses or the same images on multiple sites and promotions. You can check whether images appear elsewhere by using Google,or reverse.photos. It’s always a good idea to look at a retailer’s feedback and reviews. New websites with numerous favourable reviews which all sound similar could be questionable.
If you feel that you might have been a victim of online fraud, you should report the incident to the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSCO) at email@example.com. The scam will be investigated and publicised to warn others. In reporting a fraud, you will be helping to prevent other vapers from being victimised.
If you experience fraud when purchasing from an online marketplace, always report the scam to that marketplace. The fraud can then be investigated, and the marketplace may issue you with a refund.
Whenever or wherever you encounter fraud, you should report this to your bank or credit card provider. Remember that you will receive greater protection when purchasing with a credit card. In addition, do bear in mind that it is harder to prove fraudulent activity if you make a transaction that isn’t processed through the payment system of an ecommerce site or platform. Bank transfers can be risky. If you are asked to make a payment outside of a website or platform, you should do your research before sending any funds. It is almost impossible to get your money back if you voluntarily make a bank transfer.
You should also report scams to the specialist organisations that tackle fraud and raise awareness of scams. These organisations include the Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer Protection, Trading Standards and the police’s Action Fraud department.