Unscrupulous online CBD vendors are using the name of a famous Canadian scientist and environmentalist to sell their products and hundreds of people have been fooled, according to the David Suzuki Foundation.
The Foundation issued a warning to potential buyers and their supporters not to be taken in by scam sites selling CBD products using Suzuki’s name. The Internet is also awash with fake posts and news stories that claim Suzuki, host of The Nature of Things, is embroiled in a legal battle with Dragon’s Den star Kevin O’Leary.
All the posts lead to “fraudulent” product pages and ask for credit card information. Many of the pages appear to be hosted in foreign countries and their promotions are full of broken English and nonsensical claims.
Hundreds of people gave their credit card information to the fraudsters to buy their CBD gummies, the Foundation says.
“We really feel for anyone who has been tricked by this deceitful online scam,” David Suzuki Foundation incoming executive director Severn Cullis-Suzuki said. “We have alerted several relevant authorities and we’re hoping the fake news stories and social media accounts will be removed quickly. Forgive the pun, but we need to nip this one in the bud.”
The Foundation has alerted Facebook, the RCMP, NBC Universal, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, Competition Bureau Canada, the media distribution service 11 Press, and Kevin O’Leary’s team.
“This is an example of the disturbing yet extremely successful industry of online scammers that prey on innocent people, and it’s a reminder of the importance of strong media literacy in this digital age,” Cullis-Suzuki says. “This kind of perpetuation of fake news is part of a greater trend that leads to everything from climate denial to vaccine skepticism and more. Improving everyone’s ability to tell the difference between real and fake information should always be a high priority.”
The RCMP is advising people to contact their local police detachment if they have been scammed. Facebook responded to the Foundation’s alert and has begun to take down fraudulent Facebook pages promoting the products.