Firewood scam: watch out for these online offers

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

Inventories are running low the deadlines are getting longer : it is tempting to want to use the Internet to have firewood delivered for this winter. According to recent studies, this method of heating would indeed three times cheaper.

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

Identity theft

The process of criminals is simple: they usurp, on the Internet, the identity of a well-established company and offer enticing offers to attract their future victims. The customer then contacts by email. The bogus company sends a quote that is often perfectly imitated. It is therefore easy to be fooled.

From there, the usurpers get paid before delivery, pocket the money, then disappear without honoring the order. For their part, customers are waiting for their delivery which… never arrives.

In 2021, such a scam was tried before the court of Nîmes for having made 200 victims and nearly two million euros of damage. In a press release, the gendarmerie explains the process of the crooks:

The investigators discovered that individuals, mostly from Benin, were collecting money linked to timber sales via various accounts subscribed with impersonated identities. Once the transfer has been obtained, they transfer the sum abroad, where the principals are located, taking a commission on the way.

National Gendarmerie

It also happens that the thugs place advertisements on well-known sitesas The good cornerto fool their victims.

“We see a lot of offers on classified ad sites, especially from individuals who offer relatively low prices : these offers represent ¾ of the market and often quality and volumes are not there at the time of delivery”, warns Olivier Silberberg, animator of the France Bois Bûche brand.

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

How not to be fooled?

Firewood
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 quite rare; today, most orders are done over the phone and it’s always reassuring to have professionals online. We must also seek proximity and, above all, favor labeled companies (France Bois Bûche, NF, ONF Énergie Bois, etc.) to be sure of the volumes sold, the species delivered and the humidity. »

You should also be wary of offers that seem too attractive. It is necessary to find out about market prices to avoid giving in to the highest bidders and ultimately never receiving delivery. “A price that is too attractive can be a clue. There are big disparities between regions in France but you will rarely find prices below €50 per m3 Of wood at a professional. You can find real offers at these prices, but often they come from individuals. »

Be aware that the timber sector heater has experienced price stability for the past 20 years. He has not increased on average by only 1%.

Then check delivery time of your order. The situation is tense for all professionals. If you are offered express delivery in three days, it does not seem tenable.

At the moment, demand is very strong, so delivery times are longer than one month, on average. If you are offered delivery in a few days, you can actually be wary.

Olivier SilberbergHost of France Bois Bûche

Another clue: the method of payment chosen by your interlocutor. Bank transfer or money order are difficult to trace. A godsend for scammers. It is therefore necessary to remain cautious.

Finally, remember to check legal mentions sites you are surfing on. These allow you to verify the company behind each website. “Look if the company really exists on sites like societe.com and check the address mentioned on the announcement: these are already elements that should alert”, advises Olivier Silberberg.

To be totally sure not to suffer the slightest scam, it is finally advisable to go to reputable and reliable brands. Or maybe you will be lucky, like the inhabitants of this town in the Pays de Loire, in Loire-Authion, that your municipality decides whether to place a bulk order herself or to sell wood cut off by its technical services.

FM and GH

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