It’s hard to imagine organized CBD scams. Usually, when we think of these operations, images of fake website links, Nigerian princes, or someone from “the IRS” and “Windows” come to mind. Although typical scams are very real (and annoying), CBD seems to have also taken a page from their book.
Of course, unscrupulous companies aren’t going to call you at all hours or try to hack your computer. But online, it’s not hard to pass something off as authentic. Surprisingly, there’s an old default that some vendors use to this day.
Fake credibility is easy to accomplish, which is a skill some CBD companies like to pull off. The usual red flags are still worth mentioning, but there’s a new technique meant to take advantage of savvy shoppers.
The CBD Shark Tank Scam
Capitalizing on a popular show like “Shark Tank” is clever, given the show’s purpose.
For those who aren’t familiar, “Shark Tank” is a TV show airing on ABC. Aspiring business people pitch their products or services to a handful of millionaire investors referred to as “sharks.”
The sharks consider each pitch and accept or reject it (sometimes with jaw-dropping brutality). One or more of the “sharks” can make offers, with a few rare instances of them bidding against each other for a share in the startup company.
Getting a product or idea through that kind of gauntlet takes courage, dedication, and a solid business plan. Consequently, unsuspecting customers assume that if this popular show backs a brand, it must be legitimate. Right?
How the Scam Works
Currently, the Shark Tank CBD scam focuses on CBD gummies, likely due to their popularity and broad appeal. But this tactic can work with any CBD product.
According to Kirkland Reporter, the scam has two stages. First, the “company” generates credibility using the “Shark Tank” show’s name. They may make claims like being the “only” CBD company to be featured on the program.
Next, the vendor claims its products are superior to any other premium brand and successfully charges well above even the most expensive legitimate CBD products.
In some cases, the CBD website doesn’t honestly sell anything. Instead, it’s a front for phishing. Once you put in your name, address, and credit card information, the site records those keystrokes for scammers to collect.
At that point, you could be in a world of trouble. The worst part is that this scam traps people who are doing their research on a company before buying. Any skeptic would feel at ease knowing the product their about to buy was allegedly on “Shark Tank.”
Have Any CBD Brands Been on “Shark Tank”?
No. As of the writing of this article, no CBD brand has even stepped in front of the infamous sharks.
According to the Kirkland Reporter, “not a single CBD gummy business has been aired on the show. You are most likely being swindled if a CBD gummy company tells you they have been to the Shark Tank show.”
Risks of CBD Scams
Aside from the threat to your identity and finances, scam companies can also harm your health. For instance, these vendors have no reason to follow federal laws on THC limits, meaning you could easily consume well over 0.3% THC in each dose.
It’s equally possible that the product is hollow, with no CBD, THC, or anything else of value to your body. Traces of solvents and other contaminants could also be present.
Remember that these operations are just looking to take your money. All they need to do is provide something that passes for CBD gummies or other cannabidiol products.
Other Signs of a CBD Scam
There are other ways you can spot a potential CBD scam. However, keep in mind that just because these red flags exist doesn’t mean deception. Some could be a result of carelessness or ignorance.
But whether intentional or accidental, any of the following signs should make you second-guess purchasing from them.
Unsupported Medical Claims
The Kirkland Reporter mentions the danger of inflated medical claims, something everyone should be aware of. It’s easy to sell a cure-all to a customer with no CBD experience.
Although CBD has success treating certain types of epilepsy, the FDA hasn’t approved it for anything else. This means it’s against the law to make any promises about treating or curing conditions.
So if they make definitive statements about CBD’s medical properties, they’re ignoring regulations, deceiving their customers, and putting people’s health at risk.
Poor Customer Reviews
Bad reviews happen. Even the best, most well-intentioned businesses can’t accommodate every request, leaving a handful of disgruntled customers. But a reputable CBD company should be able to overshadow the negative feedback with good or excellent reviews.
But if you see claims like ghosting after a purchase, missing packages, or non-existent customer service, don’t take the risk of being the next angry client. Be especially vigilant for contradictions. For instance, if the company makes promises that customers find untrue, that’s an immediate sign to shop somewhere else.
Lack of Real Third-Party Tests
Some legitimate CBD businesses don’t test their products, but CBD scams are guaranteed not to do so.
In some cases, vendors forge their third-party lab tests, where they control the testing process and, ultimately, what gets printed on the label.
So what’s a sign that lab tests might be forged? Here are a few indicators:
- No identifying information (names, lab, etc)
- Redacted sections
- Missing information (i.e. THC content)
- Messy or inconsistent layout, like it was done in a photo editor
- No details on which test was used
- Missing dates
But a good forgery can look legitimate, so research is the most reliable way to cover yourself. Look up the lab name attached to the test results to determine its validity. If the name and services check out, then you’re in the clear.
Scammers don’t care about the finer details, so it’s likely they’ll try to create a barebones functional website. They just need to get your information and make the sale (if they’re even selling anything at all).
If you land on a CBD company’s website and it looks like someone made with Geocities in 1998, then they either have the worst web design team, or they’re a scam.
Does Anyone on Shark Tank Endorse CBD?
Nobody has successfully pitched a CBD product on the show. But Kevin Harrington, one of the shows former “sharks,” has openly given support for one CBD brand.
How to Protect Yourself from a CBD Scam
Fortunately, it’s easy to protect yourself from a CBD scam. The key is to fact-check. If a vendor says they were featured in a major media outlet, try to find the content, or ask them for a link.
And again, there’s always plenty of information (or dirt) online for virtually any business imaginable. For instance, Tessera Naturals has a presence on independent sites like Leafly and has a history of glowing reviews.
The opposite might be true for the “premium CBD” vendor you’re eyeing.
- Some CBD gummy scams claim to have been featured on “Shark Tank”
- CBD has never been pitched on “Shark Tank”
- Watch out for CBD businesses that make medical claims, feature bad customer feedback, provide no (or questionable) test results, or simply look shady
- Some CBD scams don’t sell anything, but use their online forms to take personal information
- Identity theft is a serious concern with CBD scams