Economy

Firewood, how to avoid online scams



After soaring prices and fears of shortages, French people heating with wood are faced with a new difficulty, a consequence of the first two: the proliferation of fraudulent sites selling logs and pellets online.

The UFC-Que Choisir association warned at the start of the school year. She cited victims who ordered more than €1,000 worth of goods without ever being delivered. The website signal-scams.com, which lists reports from Internet users, confirmed at the end of September: it recorded ten times more alerts on the subject than last year at the same time. He is also concerned about less vigilance on the part of consumers when they need to be delivered urgently.

Beware of too attractive prices

Because some scams are dreadful. “They’re impersonating existing companies that themselves don’t have a website”, explains Anthony Legros, founder of signal-arnaques.com. In this case, the site is run by the scammers, while displaying the name, logo and postal details of a real company.

Too attractive prices are the main clue to a fraudulent site. Thus, many of them offer the pallet of wood pellets (about one ton) around 300 €. This price level, current in 2021, is unrealistic this autumn: a ton of pellets is bought rather between 600 and 800 €, and the (real!) professionals no longer commit to delivery times as the tensions of supply are important.

Too rich an offer is not a guarantee of seriousness

If the site asks to pay the order by bank transfer, and not by card, the buyer must be even more suspicious. Scammers have a preference for this payment method: “A transfer is an almost irreversible operation, which does not require a professional bank account for the person receiving it”says Anthony Legros.

Finally, an offer that is too rich is not a guarantee of seriousness, quite the contrary: “Resellers of wood energy only market one, two or three brands of pellets for example, and not ten like most scam sites”, says Victorine Darasse, in charge of digital activity at Euro Energies, a specialist in wood fuel. The company regularly publishes lists of fraudulent sites on the Facebook pages of its two brands, Woodstock Bois and Crépito.

It also warns against sites offering heating equipment, fuels and cleaning equipment at the same time: a combination ” very rare “ among serious professionals because “it calls for several complex skills”adds Victorine Darasse.



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