Here at DabConnection, we proudly cultivate our reputation as one of the few truly unbiased review websites for the cannabis industry. Unfortunately, when you’re dedicated to telling the unvarnished truth as a staunch consumer-side advocate, you tend to make a few enemies. We get a lot of blowback from outfits whom we’ve called out in the past, but we’ll talk more about that further down.
Recently we’ve become quite alarmed at the number of fake websites online scamming users. These sites claim to sell cannabis products, but end up taking people’s money and sending nothing. The more we post about this, the more it blows up. A recap:
It seems for every one we report, commenters come back with ten more they found. The FDA and DEA are aware of this issue and have so far taken down 44 vape scam websites, but of course more pop up. The watchdog site The Scam Directory lists many more; at rough count they list 1,600 known websites running rip-off stores in the cannabis product niche!
Meanwhile our commenters here report sad tales of getting scammed for their money, some going into the thousands of dollars. Check the comments under those previous blog posts listed in the recap. One person after another reports getting ripped off. Let’s reiterate:
All of them, all of them, all of them. There are no exceptions to this rule. If you live in a state where cannabis is still illegal without a medical referral, I’m sure that you wish that it were that easy to just buy some vape carts online like any other product. But it does not work that way.
You can ship hardware. That is legal. You can ship accessories, pipes, rigs, vaporizers, batteries, and so on.
You can ship CBD and hemp products. That is also allowed under the Farm Bill, as long as the products contain less than 0.3% THC.
You can ship Delta 8 THC. Delta 8 is so far federally unregulated. That may change, and it is already banned in several states that don’t have a legal cannabis plan yet, but for now, as far as the federal government is concerned, shipping it is fine.
You can get cannabis products delivered locally in a legalized state. Delivery is not the same thing as shipping. Shipping is an act requiring postage, packaging, and a nation-wide network. Delivering is something you do with a pizza.
YOU CAN NOT SHIP REGULAR THC IN THE UNITED STATES. That is because shipping falls under federal jurisdiction, and THC is federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act. This applies even if you are shipping from a fully legalized state to another fully legalized state, because all postal services fall under federal jurisdiction.
From the Lawyers.com website:
> “Having marijuana legalized in only a few states means that it must stay there, no matter where you are from.”
> “Shipping companies, such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx, reserve the right to search any packages that they flag as suspicious. These companies have drug dogs that are trained to smell for marijuana. If your package is flagged, USPS, UPS, and FedEx have the ability to search it and call the police. In fact, in 2016, the USPS seized over 36,000 pounds of marijuana.”
So there you have it. Even if a website took your payment online and legitimately shipped THC products to you, the USPS, UPS, and FedEx would stop the package in their processing facility and turn it over to the cops. It would never get to you.
I understand, this is an extremely confusing time in the history of cannabis! Let’s try it as an infographic:
We have come all the way from a blanket banning of a whole plant to stressing out about percentages of an individual molecule, even to the point, in delta 8’s case, of distinguishing it from a very similar molecule. This is ridiculous, but it’s the reality of life right now.
One such scam site, greenqueensdispensary.com, made a great effort to bring itself to our attention and let me tell you, it’s a doozy! How many red flags are on this site? Let us count the ways.
They want payment methods to be non-refundable. Legitimate retail websites will allow you to pay in normal credit / debit card or PayPal. Readers have reported to us that with scam sites, the initial charge is just the beginning. Some sites will string you along with messages demanding more money to cover shipping, taxes, tariffs, the mule got sick, or whatever excuse. There is always a dramatic story with scammers.
They actually show several counterfeits of real brands too, but seem to make no distinction between real and fake. Now why shouldn’t they have only real brands? Because scam sites are not going by the true market; they’re going by what they see online. The fake and counterfeit vape cart brands are the ones getting spammed over and over on Instagram, so they’re more visible.
It’s interesting that the site shows a separate tab just for Moonrocks. We know that Dr. Zodiak’s Moonrocks is one of the oldest cart brands, now (to the best of our knowledge) long defunct, which were among the first to be counterfeited. We know that “moon rocks” are also a kind of cannabis flower offering which has been dipped in extract and rolled in kief. These seem to be a rare faddish trend that most cannabis fanciers avoid, as they’re usually sub-par buds. Compare the day-old steak at the grocery store where the butcher counter repackaged it with sauce, seasoning, and veggies as a shish-kabob or something.
So why the weird grouping and pricing? It makes no sense to charge such high rates for second-rate bud that’s been rolled around in leftover sauce and dust, definitely not side-by-side with a years-outdated vape cart brand.
Further down on the same page, there’s one selection just called “buy weed.”
This photo is a plain old bag of nugs, displayed exactly like you would find at a pop-up underground sesh. But why have them specifically on the “Moonrocks” page? What we’re seeing here is people with no actual knowledge of the cannabis industry, possibly not even speaking English. They are just cobbling things together out of copy-and-pasted text run through Google.
Let’s talk about cartoon mascots:
Your humble author works in the freelance field, so this is easily recognizable to me. You see a hundred jobs like this every time you go onto the graphics section of UpWork, or more likely Fiverr or whatever freelance marketplace. You used to see them on the old Rent-A-Coder.com market too.
In international criminal culture, scammers and spammers are mentally obsessed with this concept of a “cartoon mascot” and they specifically mean that, not a logo. Theircartoon mascots all look like this: a cartoon character shaped like whatever the product is, white Mickey-Mouse-style gloves, 1950’s era smiley face. It’s always dirt-cheap graphics work, done by third-world providers. As you can see with the image we parody above in the banner and from the general look of the site, the graphics are all thrown-together mishmosh.
Every criminal subculture has its own quirky beliefs. Online spammers are unshakably convinced that a “cute” cartoon mascot will win us American idiots over and make us give them our money. This has created a cottage industry for cheap cartoon mascots across the board. There’s thousands of these, some as cheap as $10, money a legitimate professional graphics designer would not get out of bed for. What they’re actually doing is just ripping another design and copy-pasting elements together. This “vape cart man” was probably originally a spark plug for an equally scammy site about auto parts.
Their address is listed as Vanir Tower in San Bernardino, California:
Now, San Bernardino would definitely be a likely place for a dispensary. But if you look it up on Google maps, the actual Vanir Tower happens to be a government building in the heart of downtown.
That building houses the local branch of the IRS, a US probation and parole office, and the San Bernardino City Hall. No dispensary would set up shop in this building!
Meanwhile, “whois” info for the domain greenqueensdispensary.com was first created on March 6th, 2021, just ten days ago as of this writing.
In between then and now, they found time to spam our forum in now-deleted posts under a nickname that is now banned. THREE times! Of all the cannabis industry websites they could have picked to spam, we’re the one site that built our reputation on busting fakes and scams…
Isn’t that just adorable? If some people would only read.
We mentioned at the top that we get the occasional fake cart brand, unregistered counterfeit business, Internet scammer, and other lowlife writing us emails. These communications urge us to retract our bad press about them. They range from pleading and begging, to threatening us with lawyers and then just plain threatening us without lawyers.
I already responded to the fake cart brands in my classic unhinged rant “if we get your brand mistaken for fake, IT’S YOUR OWN DAMN FAULT!” Sometimes you just have to get it off your chest, you know?
So we have gotten a series of snivels from the scam website TKOExtracts.org. As we already point out, the real TKO company is at TKO PRODUCTS DOT COM, not “dot org,” and they do not sell any carts at all anymore, just edibles. They pretty much gave up on the cart market after the counterfeits flooded the earth.
Here’s why we don’t respond to threats or pleas when it comes to scammers: We are a REVIEW website. We function in the position of consumer advocacy. Just like movie reviewers are free to say a movie stinks, we are within our full First Amendment rights if we say your cartridge oil tastes like camel piss. That’s what a REVIEW site does!
We also have the public’s safety and well-being in mind. The vape-lung epidemic is still a real thing, people are still dying from it and many more are in the hospital, even though COVID-19 has obliterated all other medical news off the media. Kids as young as 15 are dying from it. So we have the world’s most solid good-faith argument, which is why we’re not afraid of being taken to court.
Luckily, we enjoy enough popularity that for every sour apple in the bunch, we get hundreds of readers thanking us for our commitment and hard work. And what the heck, sometimes our “tough love” puts the dodgy brands back on the straight and narrow. Look how Big Chief is doing these days, after all the times we kicked them around.
Every time you see a website which offers to ship THC carts, they are a scam.
Do not give them money, in any form.
Report them to the FBI. Online Crime Complaint Center right there.
Buy your THC from licensed providers. We have contact lists to find the licensed retailers in every US state, in a handy list.
As always, thank you for keeping us informed and up to date about online scams! You have all saved other people potentially millions of dollars, if our math is right. Drop by our forum and give us a whistle.
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