Fuel fraud: beware of these online offers

To avoid being ripped off, order your fuel directly from a certified company. (©Anetlanda/AdobeStock)

Inventories are running low deadlines are getting longer : it’s tempting to want to use the Internet to deliver fuel for this winter. According to recent studies, this method of heating in fact three times cheaper.

In France, since the end of 2019, boiler sales and wood burning stoves increased by 150%. But beware of overly attractive offers on the web.

Identity theft

The criminal process is simple: they took, on the Internet, the identity of a well-established company and offers attractive offers to attract their future victims. The customer will then be contacted via email. The bogus company sends a quote that is often completely duplicated. So it is easy to be deceived.

From there, the fishermen get paid before shipping, pocket the money, then disappear without respecting the order. For their part, customers waited for their shipment that… never came.

In 2021, a scam of this kind was judged by the court of Nîmes for making 200 victims and almost two million euros in damages. In a press release, the gendarmerie explained the process of fraudsters:

Investigators discovered that the individuals, mostly from Benin, collected money linked to the timber trade through various accounts subscribed to with stolen identities. Once the transfer is received, they transfer the amount abroad, where the principals are located, taking a commission on the way.

National Gendarmerie

It also happens that robbers place ads on popular siteslike LeBonCoin, to deceive their victims.

“We see a lot of offers on classified ad sites, especially from individual bidders relatively low price : these offers represent ¾ of the market and always quality and volumes not there during the delivery”, warns Olivier Silberberg, brand animator of France Bois Bûche.

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“So the ad is catchy but better contact a professional which will deliver the expected quantity to you. Especially since the humidity is not respected most of the time because it must have enough stock in allow the wood to dry, which will take several months. »

How not to be deceived?

wood
You should also be wary of offers that seem too attractive or sellers who announce delivery within three days. (©Anna Lipman-AdobeStock)

So how do you avoid the pitfalls? “Companies that allow online shopping are still rare; today, most orders done over the phone and it’s always reassuring to have professionals online. We must also seek closeness and, above all, favor branded companies (France Bois Bûche, NF, ONF Énergie Bois, etc.) to ensure the volumes sold, the species delivered and the humidity. »

You should also be wary of offers that seem too tempting. Need to know about market prices to avoid giving to the highest bidders and ultimately never receiving delivery. “A very attractive price can be a sign. There are many differences between the regions of France but you rarely find prices under €50 per m3 In the tree of a professional. You can find real offers at these prices, but they are always from individuals. »

Be aware that the fuel sector has experienced price stability over the past 20 years. He didn’t increased by an average of only 1%.

Then check delivery time to your order. The situation is tense for all professionals. If you are offered express delivery in three days, it cannot be maintained.

Currently, demand is very strong, so delivery times are longer than a month, on average. If you are offered delivery in a few days, you can be cautious.

Olivier SilberbergThe host of France Bois Bûche

Another indicator: the payment method chosen by your interlocutor. Bank transfer or money order difficult to trace. A godsend for scammers. So it is necessary to remain vigilant.

Finally, remember to check legal reference sites you surf. This allows you to verify the company behind each website. “See if the company actually exists on sites like societe.com and check the address mentioned of notice: these are already elements that need to be alert”, advises Olivier Silberberg.

To be absolutely sure not to suffer even the slightest scam, it is finally advisable to go to reputable and trusted brands. Or maybe you are lucky, like the inhabitants of this town in Pays de Loire, in Loire-Authion, which your municipality decided to place a group order on his own or to sell wood cut through his technical services.

FM and GH

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