Scams multiply as price of firewood rises in France

Buyers are advised to call companies directly and not to purchase via Facebook pages - which can be faked

The price of firewood has risen with demand due to the boom in wood stoves sales - itself a consequence of the high electricity prices
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The rising price of firewood in France has drawn the attention of scammers keen to take advantage of people looking for a bargain.

In the latest firewood scam, fraudsters used the cloned Facebook page of a major supplier to trick buyers into paying a deposit for the purchase of non-existent wood.

The victims, who believed they were looking at the real Facebook page of Ardennes-based chain Sotransbois, transferred thousands for euros to the scammers’ bank accounts located in Africa.

The scammers’ Facebook page - which is still online - is almost indistinguishable from that of Sotransbois but for the addition of a space in the name: ‘Sotrans bois’. Its last post dates from February 24.

“People looking for cheap wood who are willing to jump on the first offer they find end up being caught out,” a salesman at the real Sotransbois in Rocroi (Ardennes) told local media La Depeche.

“We have alerted clients on our website, but we are still getting two calls a day on average from people saying they have not received their delivery.

“For the time being we have still not been able to have the pirate site deleted.”

Firewood up to 40% more expensive

This latest scam follows a previous one on the same model that fraudulently earned up to €100,000 in late 2022 using cloned websites at a time when the price of firewood was 20% higher than normal.

However, the price of 1m³, or a stère, of firewood in early 2024 is up to 40% higher than it was in 2022.

This is largely due to the increased demand for firewood caused by the boom in wood stove sales - itself a consequence of the rising cost of electricity over recent years.

Buyers are urged to purchase directly from the suppliers’ website and to call them if in doubt.

“Just last week, another victim, this one from Belgium, called us after paying €2,200 for wood,” said the Sotransbois salesman.

Sotransbois has lodged a complaint over the matter with the gendarmes.

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