Scam Alert: Online Cigarette Sales Often a Ploy

Beware online cigarette sales can often be a ploy!
March 02, 2017

Purchasing cigarettes from online international sellers sounds like a great deal! However, some sellers are scammers, and they can land you in trouble with the law.  

How the Scam Works

You hear that you can save money on cigarettes by buying online from international sellers. You search, and find a site that looks legitimate. It has photos of big brand names, and the cigarettes are a great price. It’s less than half of what you pay in the US or Canada.

You decide to buy a few cartons. Some sites have a five or 10 carton minimum. When you are ready to check-out, you notice the seller doesn’t accept credit cards. You need to pay by wire transfer or prepaid debit card.

Don’t do it! The seller will take your money and confirm the order shipped - but your cigarettes will never arrive. 

How to spot an online sales scam: 

  • If the price seems too good to be true, there's probably something wrong: Be wary if the price is significantly lower than on similar sites.
  • Don’t wire money or use a prepaid debit card: Be sure to pay by credit card.
  • Check for contact information and social media presence: Look for a real address and telephone number in the site’s contact information. Check out the company’s social media presence to verify their activity.
  • Use Look up the domain name to see if it is registered in the country where the business claims to be located.
  • Make sure websites are secure and authenticated: Before you purchase an item online. Look for "https" before the web address and online seals that ensure your credit card and/or banking information is secure. 

More information:

Learn more about buying cigarette online at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s website

It’s important to adhere to local tax regulations. Be sure to follow the laws in your state.

For Canadian information visit

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker