/ Scams

CBD oil scams: fraudulent celeb endorsements and fake shipping tracking

Fraudsters peddling health supplements are still using famous faces, such as Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden, to lure victims. Here’s how they’re now using fake courier websites.

We were recently contacted by a member of the public who decided to try a CBD supplement after seeing an advert online. But instead of charging £5 for a sample, the company took £198 from their account.

When challenged on that payment it apologised and said the standard-size product had already been shipped, but that the customer could return it for free for a full refund.

Six weeks later, it still hadn’t arrived.

Fake shipping trackers

According to the shipping tracker website there had been a ‘problem delivering it to the address’. The retailer then said it couldn’t help.

Something didn’t seem right, so the victim got in touch with Which? for help, explaining that the apparent endorsement of the product by Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden made her feel comfortable to make the purchase. The advert even appeared to show lots of positive reviews on Facebook.

At first glance the entire process looks legitimate: the company was responsive to the complaints and sent confirmation emails that included a link to track the ‘order’. But we found that the shipping ‘tracking’ website was a fake.

It had been cleverly designed to show a realistic timeline of the order, falsely reporting that it left a warehouse in California, USA, and travelled to the UK via air cargo, but then encountered an unexplained issue when being delivered.

This elaborate customer service experience disguised the scam. It’s probably hoped that victims give up and forget about their orders or write them off as being lost – we’ve heard from many victims of this very fraud. The company involved did not respond to our request for comment.

In this case, the victim used their debit card to pay, so they did benefit from some protection in the event of overcharging, using a process called chargeback. We advised that the victim contact their bank, which was familiar with this scam and fully refunded them within 24 hours.

Guide: how to spot a scam

Guide: how to get your money back after a scam

Fake celebrity endorsements

Fake adverts and news articles using celebrities’ photos without permission are rife online and often feature fake positive reviews.

Famous faces commonly used include entrepreneurs such as Dragons’ Den stars Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. Martin Lewis has also frequently had his image used without permission.

We got in touch with Deborah Meaden to make her aware of this case. She thanked us for bringing it to her attention and said:

“With the growing sophistication of online fraud, it becomes increasingly important to carry out checks before parting with cash online. A quick Google search will often reveal the truth and all online advertising should be read set against the premise of “If it looks too good to be true then it probably is!”

Celebrities do endorse many brands, but online ads featuring well-known names, especially ones that are promoting ‘wonder’ products or get-rich-quick schemes, should be treated with caution.

Have you seen fake celebrity endorsements for CBD oil or other products? Let us know in the comments.

Comments
DIANE SANDFORD says:
27 August 2021

I got caught by the Lewis Hamilton ‘Green Gummy Bears’ offer. My bank luckily blocked it immediately. It was a very very clever advert, it was written using phrases that Lewis would use.

What expertise has Lewis Hamilton got in Green Gummy Bears that would lead anyone to take advice, purportedly in his name? Why on earth would you unquestioningly take advice from a “celebrity” even if the genuinely endorsed it?

Michelle Wood says:
17 September 2021

I have just fallen for the same thing, this time it was using Russel Brand. same amount of money taken as in the article £198 75.

I had exactly the same experience with CBD gummy bears which I did receive but with no return address for a refund I paid with a credit card and have had a partial refund for the overcharge and the additional goods up sold on checkout. Still waiting for a final resolution

I adams says:
27 August 2021

Beware of ads claiming to sell Amazon pallets
I got one usb speaker worth £14.99 on eBay and the postage was £9.99 PayPal got me a refund

Roger Beale says:
31 August 2021

Exactly the same with me! Same product and outcome. Surely paypal know of this scam but they don’t block or warn of it. Seems as though they are in bed with the fraudsters.

Christine says:
10 September 2021

I did exactly the same and got a small battery radio worth 10 pound it cost me 39.00

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I saw an ad like this, but SO MANY celebrities were included in the same ad, it just had to be fake!

always check with google if it doesnt look 100 percent forget it

Martin Lewis constantly says he doesn’t do adverts so when he’s faked into one it’s obviously a scam or untrue, Maybe if these other so-called celebrities weren’t such greedy sods and advertise tat then people wouldn’t be so easily sucked in when a fake pops up.

Saw advert on Facebook for CBD Gummy Bears being sold by Esther Rantzen.

D I Powell says:
27 August 2021

I paid for a trial supply of these it was £45 which is alot but I had so much pain I thought it was worth a try,especially as Esther Ratzen endorsedit. Well they took £235 from my account and although i stopped my card immediatly they sent the product with no return address,Barclaycard have stopped the transaction But I have no way of returning it. I am awaiting result.

Anura says:
27 August 2021

For Heavens sake, check product and/or company for reviews on Google before parting with any money – invariably these snake oil products will show hundreds of scammed and dissatisfied customers which gives you your answer. And if the site shows no physical address or contact details, don’t even bother checking – just walk away.

Peter Ridgley says:
28 August 2021

And until a couple of days ago Lewis Hamilton’s name was being used in ads appearing in a free Solitaire game loaded from Google

John washbrook says:
28 August 2021

In today’s email

“With the growing sophistication of online fraud, it becomes increasingly important to carry out checks before parting with cash online. A quick Google search will often reveal the truth and all online advertising should be read set against the premise of “If it looks too good to be true then it probably is!”

* There is no suggestion as to how to ​frame the search​ ​​
* The scenario described does not meet the “If it looks too good to be true …!” criterion.

I tried “CBD Meaden” and ​”CBD Meaden scam”. Neither found a warning about this scam.

How very disappointing to find such apparently useless advice on Which?

The quotation appears in the introduction and is attributed to Deborah Meaden who, according to Google is a TV personality. Perhaps its best to treat the views of personalities in the same way as others who are paid to influence us.

I think she survived a few weeks on some TV dancing competition which is probably the proof of celebrity status these days. I suppose that means, by definition, that she has suffered anxiety and depression and is therefore fully qualified to promote this product and to influence others similarly afflicted.

Deborah Meaden is a dragon on Dragon’s Den.

Yesterday, when I was doing some investigation I kept seeing Dragons Den CBD, but couldn’t find out whether it had actually been on the programme.

I have noticed that even if budding entrepreneurs get rubbished and rejected, they still say on their websites ‘As seen on Dragon’s Den’.

My experience with these people was that in the small print they say that if you don,t cancel the “subscription ” they will take x amount from your Credit Card account monthly ( they have those details for the postage charges for the free sample offer ). In my case it was £84 which I got back from my Credit Card Co. I guess the message is don,t send for anything but if you do read the small print first !!!

Russell stevens says:
9 September 2021

Russell brand promoting CBD products

It would be beneficial if the banks + CC companies set up a shared site that would collate fake websites. After a series of incidents from customers asking for chargebacks, they should have some knowledge of who is fake and who isn’t. Customers will then be able to reference one site instead of having to do specific searches.

Patrick Beattie says:
14 September 2021

I think the bottom line IS, do not buy anything from Facebook adds, while one or two may be genuine, the bulk of them are scams.
Both Facebook and PayPal should get their act together in checking out these adds.
I once made a purchase and although I made a claim via PayPal, when I eventually got paid In full, but PayPal still allowed others to make pur hases from this company, even though they themselves said it was a scam.

Don’t be fooled, most ‘celebrities’ will endorse ANYTHING if they are paid enough!!

Like shampoo and CBD oil.
I take no notice of what celebrities say – just let them do what they are good at (if anything). Why should I or anyone else believe they have any better insight into a product or service than any of us, unless we are experts (and them I would listen to). So perhaps those who hang onto everything a “celebrity” says get what they deserve?

CBD Green Gummies (bears) I thought I was paying £39 and was charged £198.75 I tried to cancel the transaction immediately via my bank but was told it had already gone through! It also subscribes you to two further payments of the the same amount saying it is some sort of programme. All continuous payment authority has to be stopped with your bank and I requested a new debit card also to be on the safe side. There is a UK phone number but you are put continuously on hold, when I did get through they said they could not cancel the order but would refund £40 I said no they then said £60 I said no I would return the product they said postage would cost £50, unlikely for a package which would be less than 1kg. Phone number +442039068976 (London). Logistics company they use is Huxloe Logistics based in Kettering. I have contacted Trading Standards. Their webpage says 30 day guarantee if not fully satisfied and that it won’t cost you a ‘dime’. These webpages for this product aree all over the internet why can’t they be taken down as they are fraudulent?

What’s wrong with Holland and Barrett?

The staff in my local H&B are really knowledgeable and helpful. Online they have frequent special offers plus their points system is good if you use points before they expire.

Online, they have Buy One Get One Free on CBD products at the moment. I haven’t tried any, but if I did would certainly try there first.