Bags of wood pellets for less than 10 euros? Beware of overly attractive online ads!

It will not escape your eye that energy prices are exploding like never before, they have never exploded… Electricity, gas, fuel oil, firewood and above all wood pellets! These little wood pellets have been a bit of a treasure for the last few weeks and have gone to several areas for it more than €1000 per ton, while last year it was around €400 at the same time… Tensions in the wood pellet market are fueling envy and basically scammers of all kinds. Be carefull, wood pellet tricks plenty on social networks! How to spot them and what to do if you’ve been scammed, we explain everything!

Scammers are out!

If we had to refer to a warrior dictionary, they would be what they were called war profiteers, those who try to get rich at people’s expense. And, they are really present in all the social networks of France and Navarre. France’s European Consumer Center is overwhelmed with complaints about fake sites selling firewood or pellets across Europe…

How do cheats work?

Most scammers imitate an existing companythat is why they are hard to spot… So they usurp the name, address, number of companies and steal some photos on real sites to illustrate their fake propositions, explains the France 3 Regions website. Most of the time they do publish their ads in Facebook groups like “You know you come from…”, or on the American social network MarketPlaces. The ads are definitely done perfectly, and the prices are often very attractive compared to those practiced in the real market!

Facebook Marketplace Ads. (Facebook screenshot)

How do I know if an ad is a scam?

Before you place an order, you’ll need to check a few things, starting with seller profiles. If you discover an “empty” profile with no publication other than selling pellets, it doesn’t smell very good. Beware of profiles created just “for the occasion” so a few days before the announcement without any history behind. If, on the other hand, a real company that you can contact and that has a physical address is hidden behind the reseller, it is already more reassuring. Normally, a company’s website should, at least, indicate a warehouse or a store where it is possible to withdraw its order.

If you have contacted a fake seller, what to do?

Not all sellers are scammers, but be careful this time from the authorized payment methods… If the payment is made by bank transfer, you should check in advance if the bank account corresponds to the company name and the country of origin… You can check it in the tool Iban calculator (free). We won’t take a picture for you, but if the account country is outside of France, it still doesn’t smell too good! If you are offered payment via Neosurf or Western Union, it is definitely not! And in 95%, a trick well done. If you have been blocked, paid, received nothing and obviously cannot reach the seller, missing subscribers, you should first contact your bank to open a fraud or “withdrawal” procedure.

Will France reduce the VAT of firewood?
Will France reduce the VAT of firewood? Non-contractual illustrative photo. Credit: Shutterstock

If the seller is located in the European Union, Iceland or Norway, then contact with European Consumer Centre through an online form. Then, if you have been a victim of fraud, then you will need to file a complaint and report the seller on the government website. Signal consumed. However, be careful with the very low price especially in this tense period in the pellet market… At less than €600 per ton (Average indicative price in France on 28/10/2022), it smells really bad and it’s better to move on.

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