Better Business Bureau warns consumers to beware of fraudulent online cannabis retailers. (Black Press file photo)

Better Business Bureau warns consumers to beware of fraudulent online cannabis retailers. (Black Press file photo)

B.C. Consumers rack up big losses to shady online cannabis retailers

BBB: Whatever you do, don’t buy cannabis from a retailer that asks for payment in bitcoin!

Don’t be duped by illicit cannabis companies.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) received over 60,000 consumer inquiries for the industry, with many trying to get details on trustworthy online retailers.

In April, the BC Bureau received several complaints regarding Canadian Hemp Co. and another called Hello Ganja.

Canadian Hemp Co. posed as an online cannabis retailer with a New Westminster address on its website, but many buyers never received their goods after purchasing them online, or received something they didn’t order.

“I placed an order on their website, but I still haven’t received it, so it’s clear it was never shipped,” said a consumer from Chelmsford, Ont. “They walked away with $440 of my money. Every time I try to contact them, they just ignore me.”

Another consumer in Pomona, Calif. shared a similar experience:

“I placed my order on April 30, 2020…The company said I had to pay through PayPal with my credit card which I did. To date, I have not received the product. After, two emails, the company said they would trace the order but they have not answered any of my emails since. I am now in the process of contacting PayPal to report the fraud.”

A BBB investigation revealed that Canadian Hemp Co. does not have a license for businesses operating cannabis sales and services from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

The address listed on their website belongs to another unrelated business. Another indication that the site was fraudulent were the many grammar and punctuation errors, and it encouraged Canadian consumers to make payments in bitcoin.

The company has not responded to BBB’s queries about their location, business model and competency license and has since received an F rating. An alert has also been added to their Business Profile to warn potential consumers.

The Hello Ganja scam offered special pricing for customers who purchased large amounts of cannabis.

As a result, a Port Alberni resident lost $8,500 while trying to purchase cannabis on Hello Ganga’s website. The site claims to have its operations in Fort Worth, Tex. and persuaded the buyer to make the payment via email transfer.

The victim has since been unsuccessful in connecting with the retailer concerning the status of their order or with securing a refund.

“It is important that consumers make the extra effort to research companies before conducting transactions, especially when dealing with an online retailer,” explained Karla Laird, Manager for Community and Public Relations at BBB serving Mainland BC. “Products like cannabis are regulated for a reason. Do not get distracted by attractive deals that lead you to make either illegal or risky purchases, as you will lose the protection of the law if you stumble into a scam.”

BBB encourages consumers to check the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch to see if the cannabis retailer you are considering to purchase from is on the list of licensed retailers in the province.

Consumers can also check OrgBook BC or the province’s licensing map to find legally registered non-medical cannabis stores, as well as legal public and private cannabis retail stores.

While some of the best deals are only available online, many sketchy online retailers advertise great deals that fail to measure up to the promotional hype.

Before completing a transaction, especially if the retailer is located outside of Canada, research the company’s name, address and contact information to determine its reliability and trustworthiness on bbb.org.

Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections.

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