Whenever you find a successful product category, you’re going to find scams. Unfortunately, in our data-porous society, it’s all too easy for scammers to find our personal info and use that against us. In the U.S., people are inundated by scam phone calls in passing waves as there’s always some new angle. Except, maybe, “car warranty” and “student loan” calls? Now the Better Business Bureau warns of a scam that involves CBD, but it isn’t a product made improperly. It’s a sort of bait-and-switch that’s also becoming common with credit cards that allow monthly subscriptions.
Here’s how it works, according to the BBB:
“You see an ad for CBD on social media or in an online search. A company is offering samples of CBD oil. All you need to do is pay a couple dollars for shipping and handling, and you can try it for free. In some cases, the product is even endorsed by a celebrity. For example, recent Scam Tracker reports mention popular ministers Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen.
Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, if you order the “free” sample, the scammers now have your credit card number. As soon after you receive your sample – if you receive it at all – you are charged $80 to $100 for an ongoing monthly subscription.”
The group also reports that the charges aren’t easy to undo or unsubscribe from. They’re counting on people getting frustrated by claims of “our computers are down” or other nonsense to deflect from the scammer’s behavior. Of course, these are just ploys to get callers to hang up in a huff, potentially cancelling their cards but ringing up hundreds in fees they’ll never recover without card protection. So much for “free samples.”
A more common approach to CBD scams has been around celebrity endorsements. As Dope Magazine reports, there were ones featuring Alex Trebeck, Tom Hanks, and Montel Williams. Only one of those, Montel Williams, involved a real CBD company. But it’s all too easy to rip a couple of photos off the internet and spin a false tale of endorsement these days, with ads online popping up and disappearing before most authorities can track down the creators or perpetrators.
Unfortunately, these ads target the elderly due to their good credit scores, availability of funds, and gullibility. The most aggressive are the phone calls, however, and the FBI works to shut those down, as well as online perpetrators. As CBD has risen in popularity and availability, it was inevitable to see scams around it. Promises of wellness are an attractive lure, as our spam folders are full of pills promising the moon for a dollar — but those scams still lure customers, which is why they persist. It’s likely we’ll see more CBD scams in the future, which can be reported on the Scam Tracker.