The Amazon CBD Scam!
Why you should never buy CBD products from Amazon.com
Note: We have written extensively about CBD scams in the past. If you feel you have been scammed by a CBD company outside of Amazon please refer to our popular blog here for guidance on how to proceed and get your money back.
Amazon is pretty much the one-stop-shop for everything. Good prices and fast, usually reliable delivery has helped Amazon become the largest online retailer in the world. It is no surprise then that people have turned to Amazon to search for CBD products and based on a quick search, it looks like Amazon does stock and sell a range of CBD products. However, even a shallow dive below the surface shows that the ‘CBD oils’ listed on Amazon are not CBD oils at all. They are in fact hemp seed oil or sometimes simple olive oil, dressed up in clever ways to make them appear like CBD oil products. While no seasoned CBD user sources their CBD from Amazon, thousands of people venturing for the first time into the world of CBD have been stung by the numerous CBD scam listings on Amazon.
In fact, many of our own customers at Dr. Ed® have come to us after being ripped off on Amazon. We have written this article to warn and to educate about purchasing CBD from Amazon. It is without doubt a bad idea and a guaranteed waste of money. Amazon sellers trying to sell you CBD are the worst; they know full well that their product contains no CBD and will do everything they can to part you with your money using underhanded tactics ranging from egregious medical claims to timed money-off special offers and even outright lies. Some will even knock-off existing reputable brands down to the product label in order to trick you and cash in on the legitimacy of a real CBD company. This article will help you identify the warning signs of fake CBD products both on and off Amazon but the best way to safe it to only buy CBD products directly from reputable CBD brands or CBD brand curators like Alpha Green, Nabino, GreenBox and Green Screen.
CBD Selling Rules on Amazon
Like Facebook and Google, which do not allow direct selling or advertising of ingestible CBD products, Amazon does not allow the sale of any real CBD products. Attempting to do so is against their terms of service which specifically prohibits the selling of ‘rich hemp oil containing CBD’. Dishonest sellers have taken to mainly selling hemp seed oil, an oil derived from hemp seeds that contains no cannabinoids like CBD and trying to pass this off as CBD oil. These sellers are purposefully taking advantage of CBD newcomers who are unaware of the scams in the market. The best defence against these sorts of people is education and really knowing your stuff when it comes to CBD and related key terms.
We highly recommend brushing up on the key terms and definitions below:
The Anatomy of a ‘CBD’ Product Scam
The best way to learn how to identify these scams is to see an example with the warning signs pointed out. We have taken two such examples below and have not been afraid to name them directly as these are illegitimate companies and scam products.
The only places of note this brand can be found aside from their own website is Amazon and eBay. The example below is actually taken from their website which naturally contains more examples of their misleading tactics than their Amazon listing (which is still incredibly dubious).
1) Use of low-quality digital mock-ups with generic stock images. No effort at all applied to their design or marketing.
2) 50,000 MG (milligram) is an insanely high strength of oil, if this was a CBD oil, but it isn’t. No one sells olive oil in ‘MG’ strength, so these sellers are purposefully putting a MG strength on the packaging to make you think this is a CBD oil.
3) You don’t use a dropper pipette for olive oil so why is this product being sold in a typical CBD bottle? To convince you that it is CBD when it isn’t!
4) Using the term ‘broad spectrum’ anywhere near this product is purposefully misleading as this term applies specifically to hemp extracts i.e. CBD products and not basic oil products like this.
5) Egregious medical claims playing to your health fears and promising you that this product will help. If you were in pain would you drink olive oil? Well that is what these sellers are trying to get you to do.
6) Fake countdown timers which urge you to buy before the sale ends. This timer resets when you re-enter the website and is a pure marketing ploy. This type of ploy has been specifically banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for being misleading.
7) This price is incredibly cheap for CBD oil but incredibly expensive for hemp seed oil. Real CBD oil of this strength would set you back multiple thousands of pounds, but hemp seed oil of this volume would cost not more than about £5. So not only are you being lied to in terms of what the product is, they are also charging an extortionate amount!
This brand has practically no presence at all on the internet aside from poor quality listings on eBay and Amazon. According to FakeSpot (a software which analyses Amazon reviews), up to 40% of all Nord Oil reviews are fake and ‘deception has likely been involved’.
1) Same as the first example; consistent use of low quality, generic digital mock-ups of the product. In fact, not a single piece of marketing material from this brand shows an actual picture of the product.
2) An entirely made-up claim; no attempt at all is made to prove this claim in any sort of capacity. In other words, a complete lie.
3) No CBD or other cannabinoids have ever been anywhere near this product as this is hemp seed oil.
4) Laughable inclusion of a DNA strand and other ‘sciency’ images to convince you this product is some sort of medicine when it is a common salad dressing.
Key Warning Signs of Scam Products
Once you know the details, finding scam products is quick and easy. The best way to avoid being scammed on Amazon is simply to never buy hemp products of any kind from the website. However, knowing the key points below will allow you to identify CBD scams whether they are on Amazon or not and can save you a lot of money if they help you stay vigilante. At last count, over 50 Dr. Ed® customers have come to us directly after being ripped off on Amazon. They will never make that mistake again but reading this guide now will allow you to avoid the scam in the first place.
Graphics & Design
Cheap graphics, stock images of doctors and brains, crappy PowerPoint slides and poor-quality mock-ups that don’t look real are all initial warning signs that a brand isn’t legitimate. Why? They aren’t taking the appearance or visual design of their products seriously. They haven’t been bothered to invest in good design, and in the case of mock-ups which are digital renderings of a product, haven’t even been bothered to take a real picture. Do you really want to be spending money with a company that has no attention to detail and no pride in their appearance? I certainly wouldn’t. If they put no effort at all into their adverts and branding why would they put any effort into the product itself?
This is a particular issue for us at Dr. Ed® who are a scientific brand and look to the latest research and literature to help guide our product development; while research into CBD is very encouraging and becoming more impressive and robust as time progresses, clinical evidence remains somewhat lacking and it is clinical evidence that can eventually warrant medical claims. The claims these sellers make range from ‘guaranteed pain relief’ to ‘help with cancer’. These claims would be bad enough on a CBD product but to make these claims knowing full well that you are selling essentially olive oil is absolutely outrageous. It is human dishonesty at its worst – targeting sick people, people who are scared, who are in pain, with lies and promises that they 100% cannot keep. Any real CBD brand or supposed CBD seller making strong medical claims should not be trusted because they do not care about the science and they do not have your best interests at heart.
Incredibly ‘High Strength’
Let’s say, for a moment that the picture example given above was a legitimate CBD product. 50,000 mg of CBD, when sold to a consumer, would cost anywhere between £2000 and £4000. That’s how outrageous that strength claim is. We don’t measure hemp seed oil or any common oil, like olive oil, in mg strength. It is sold by volume i.e. 100ml. Hemp seed oil is hemp seed oil, there is no ‘strength’ – what is the ‘strength’ they are measuring? For reference, most CBD brand strengths (a measure of the actual CBD content in the oil) range from around 250mg to 2500mg per bottle. It is unusual to find strengths above this. 50,000 mg products are completely unheard of in the CBD industry, yet crazy high strengths are found on hundreds of Amazon listings. This is one of the most clear and obvious clues as to if a product is fake.
Very Low Price
Most 3rd party amazon sellers are middlemen/women, sourcing their product from somewhere cheaply and selling it on at an inflated price. There is nothing wrong with that but the incredibly low prices of the supposed CBD products on Amazon make no economic sense. These Amazon sellers must be sourcing their product from somewhere else and no manufacturer or producer on the planet creates CBD products, let alone sells them, for such low prices. It is impossible to create and sell genuine CBD products for such low prices. If you see a 50,000 mg bottle of ‘CBD’ on Amazon for £25 it is an outright fake. As alluded to before, this is actually very expensive for hemp seed oil which you can buy per litre for less than that.
Numerous Fake Reviews
A bit harder to determine but something which many dodgy listings have is fake reviews. Warning signs include non-verified reviews, lots of reviews posted at similar times, similar or generated usernames, users leaving reviews have only ever left one review and reviews being written and structured in a similar way. An easier way to determine the quality and reliability of reviews is to pop the product page URL from Amazon into a website like FakeSpot which will run a test on the reviews and pop out a result including the percentage of reviews they think are fake and why they came to that conclusion. The issue of fake reviews is a serious problem across Amazon in general but can be particularly bad when it comes to health supplements like CBD.
Seller/Brand Has Almost No Presence Outside of Amazon
This point is self-explanatory and a common denominator for many of these so called ‘CBD’ brands. A quick google or web search for the brand name of the product will return very few, if any, results outside of Amazon. For example, many of the brands on Amazon do not have their own websites, they do not have any reviews on other independent sites, no contact information and generally a very small, if non-existent, digital footprint. While some brands do exist entirely on Amazon and no-where else, it is particularly suspicious when ‘CBD’ brands with hundreds of Amazon reviews are mentioned literally no where else on the entire internet – no evidence that the company is real, no evidence of where their products are created and no evidence of who makes them. If you have found a brand on Amazon, searched their name on the internet and found almost nothing, then do not trust them! If the products were legitimate, they would not only be listed on numerous other websites for sale (including their own) but other people would be talking about them online.
Clear Attempt to ‘Mimic’ CBD products
Hemp seed oil, which is usually what these ‘CBD’ products actually are, does not contain any cannabinoids at all and cannabinoids are where the therapeutic qualities of hemp/cannabis/marijuana come from so from a purely therapeutic perspective, hemp seed oil is largely useless. Hemp seed oil is a healthy fat and mainly used as a salad dressing. Aside from being fairly healthy, tasty and a good source of antioxidants, is not therapeutically valuable and should not be considered a food supplement. As such, actual hemp seed oil is usually sold in an olive-oil style container or glass jar. Individuals and brands selling hemp seed oil in medicinal style bottles with droppers (how CBD products are displayed) are doing this on purpose to make you think what they are selling is a legitimate CBD product. Olive oil isn’t sold in a medicinal dropper and taken as a supplement so hemp seed oil shouldn’t be either.
The Final Word
Our single sentence advice is that we recommend you completely avoid purchasing hemp products on any non-specialist websites like Amazon and eBay. It is always best to buy directly from the website of a reputable brand, the website (or store) of a reputable high street retailer or a known CBD brand curator website that specialises in CBD.
This is a sure-fire way to avoid scams and ensure the product you receive is a genuine CBD product and also allows you to access reliable and knowledgable customer support and care.
As always, reach out to us on web chat, social media or over email if you have any questions about our products or CBD in general. Our support team is always keen to help and offer industry-leading support and advice.