Fake Specialty Liquor Stores Online
[Updated 11/19/22] On September 7, 2022 we heard from a man we’ll call Stan about his experience with a specialty online liquor store called CityBottles.us (listing their address as “Idaho Falls, ID”). Stan enjoys quality liquors, especially a type of tequila that usually sells for $200-$300 per bottle. CityBottles.us had it for $112! This looked like a great deal to Stan and he reached out to the sales help on the site through their “Let’s Talk” chat feature. Initially, the chat didn’t raise any red flags for Stan although the English skills of the sales person at the other end weren’t all that good. However, things started to go downhill after Stan was told the shipping charge would be $50! The salesperson lowered it to $30 after Stan objected and Stan agreed to purchase the tequila. That’s when things got really bizarre! Continue reading below as we share this story with you, ending with Stan losing $142 to this scammer. That may not seem like a big loss but CityBottles.us has been around since mid-January, 2022. If 100 people were similarly scammed by this website during these 9 months, it means this criminal could take in around $14,000! (Click on most any graphic below to enlarge it.)
Other Fake and Suspicious Specialty Liquor Stores
Our investigation of CityBottles.us led us down an Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole where we many fraudulent or suspicious specialty liquor websites, as well as several other bizarre and fraudulent websites. Here is that other list. We will continue to add more fake liquor stores to this list as we discover them. If you have been scammer by these, or any other specialty online liquor stores, please email us at Fake-Liquor@thedailyscam.com!
Bourbon Sip: http://www.bourbonsip.com/ (Phone: 480-442-1298 / location listed as “Nashville, TN”)
Classic Winery Shop: https://classicwineryshop.com/ (Registered on 2/5/22 through a registrar in the EU)
City Bottles: https://citybottles.us/
My Whiskey Shop: https://mywhiskeyshop.com (Registered on 4/4/22 in Iceland through Namecheap)
Pappy Van Winkle: https://buypappyvanwinkleonline.com/ (Registered on 12/24/21 in Cameroon)
Spirits and Whiskey: https://www.spiritsandwhiskey.com/ (Phone: +1 554 883 2032 / Registered on 6/29/22 in Iceland through Namecheap)
Worth Whiskey https://worthwhisky.com/ (Phone: 502 488 2316)
Other Related Scam Sites That Are Connected to the above sites:
Birds Market: https://birdsmarket.us (Registered on 3/20/22 to a business called “Bichon Frise Pet” which listed their address as 333 Freemont Street, San Francisco, CA. No such business exists there and the street is misspelled.)
USPS Global Delivery https://uspsglobaldelivery.com
List Of Additional Scam Websites Targeting Whiskey Drinkers, according to Good Samaritan “WhiskeyScambaiter” and Whiskey Scam Alert on Twitter (@WhiskeyScam):
bestwhiskeyonlineshop.com (Registered May 16, 2022 but they say they were founded in 2010!)
bourbonwhiskeyforsale.shop (Registered October 8, 2022)
maxiscourierexpress.com (fake shipper)
After Stan agreed to pay the $142 for the tequila and shipping, the salesperson asked Stan if he could send the money via Paypal’s friends and family transfer. Stan thought this was odd and even asked the salesperson “Are you a liquor store or just an individual? PayPal is OK.” Stan should have listened “to his gut” and asked more questions like where is the store located? He should also have done a WHOIS lookup of their domain, citybottles.us! Had he done the latter, he would have seen something VERY strange. CityBottles.us was registered to a business that sells dogs! And had he looked up the address of this dog-selling business listed in the WHOIS, he would have discovered NO SUCH BUSINESS at the San Francisco address posted for it AND the scammers misspelled the street name! (REMEMBER: Verify, Verify, Verify!)
But even more peculiar was the salesperson’s response that followed. She/he said “it’s a liquor store PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org Marysella joseph. Make the payment under the option of family and friends so we can start processing your package for delivery.” Stan was starting to feel that something was not right about this purchase. In his reply he said “I can’t do friends and family. Is that a deal- breaker?” To which the salesman replied “I only accept payment as family and friends. That’s my personal account” and Stan countered with “Yes, but if I choose that one, I am not protected if the bottle breaks en route.” [We hope our readers are seeing the many warning signs that something was very wrong about this specialty liquor store!]
The sales person confidently replied with “Your package will arrive without any issues I promise.” Now Stan started pushing back…”But what if something happens? The only protection between you and me is PayPal. Otherwise, you could not send the bottles at all. I am not trying to be rude, just telling you what I am thinking. I don’t want to waste your time, but do you understand my perspective? I want the bottles.” Not even acknowledging Stan’s point, the response was “Yeah, you’re going to receive your package. Delivery will takes 24hrs maximum will have it ship with UPS, is that ok” Stan then took a leap of faith in accepting the sales person’s response and sent his $142 payment via PayPal to Marysella Joseph. The sales person responded with “when your items have been registered for delivery, I’ll have your tracking information send to you.”
Stan failed to see several MAJOR RED FLAGS strongly suggesting that CityBottles.us was NOT a legitimate online store! Late that night, Stan asked “Shall I expect the information tomorrow?” through the chat window and got a curt reply “yes.” The following evening, in the same chat session, Stan asked “We’ll, how’s it going?” and the sales person replied with “I’ll have your tracking information send to you shortly” and and hour later said “Tracking number: USPS026975820918USPS Tracking link: uspsglobaldelivery.com that is your tracking information check if it’s alright. You will have to pay an insurance fees of $70 which is refundable once you’ve received your package send the $70 into my PayPal account so I can pay the agency.”
Stan was done and strongly suspected that this sale was fraudulent and he had been scammed. He sharply told the scammer to cancel his order and refund his money. As you can guess, that didn’t happen. The next day he tried again via the chat window to cancel the order. He was now certain this was a scam. For example, there had never been any discussion of insurance and if that was necessary, the salesperson should have reported it BEFORE the sale! When the salesperson responded again, he said “Sorry for the inconveniences, please do make the payment of $70 for the insurance so your package can be delivered.” adding… “PayPal info: email@example.com Name: Elizabeth kinyanjui Make the payment with the family and friends option, so the agency can update your package for delivery so it can get to you on Tuesday.” We want our readers to notice that these scammers keep pushing more and more excuses for additional charges UNTIL Stan stopped paying! First the Tequila, then the shipping and now the insurance?!
By this point, Stan wasn’t accepting any of it and knew he had been scammed. When he suggested this, the salesperson said “that is my wife PayPal account when you have it send she will be the one to go pay for the insurance fees I’ve told you already that you don’t need to be worried because a lot of people order from us, I’m sorry if i didn’t tell you about the insurance.” Stan never got another response from the salesperson at CityBottles.us, though he tried several times over the next few days to speak with them. Sadly, we can say with confidence that the websites CityBottles.us AND USPSGlobalDelivery.com are scammer’s websites.
Our investigation into these sites have led us to other related scam websites, as listed above. Here are a few examples of these scam sites. Pay close attention to the CONTENT of a website, links that don’t work, or information that is incomplete such as an address…
Another scam site, called BuyPappyVanWinkleOnline.com, listed their phone number as 559-424-0814. We found that phone number associated with other suspicious websites, including a website claiming to sell nursing licenses without taking a nursing exam!
These screenshots came from the USPS Global Delivery service that Stan was told would be used to ship his bottle of Tequila from CityBottles.us. Look below that and you’ll see that 7 security services have identified USPSGlobalDelivery.com as malicious!
Before buying from any online service DO YOUR DUE DILIGENCE!
- Look for reviews of the service via reputable sites, NOT the site that is being reviewed! We found LOTS of fake reviews on many of these sites. They use stock images purchased from sites like Shutterstock.com!
- Look carefully throughout the store’s website. Do you find broken links? Incorrect grammar and odd language? Capitalization errors, etc? The majority of these scam sites have been created by people whose native language is not English! Take this as a warning sign and leave the site!
- Enter the domain name into a WHOIS tool and look to see WHEN the site was registered and where. If the site was registered in Iceland, using Namecheap, it is a MAJOR RED FLAG! If the website’s registrant is PRIVATE, that is another RED FLAG!
- If you cannot make your purchase through a standard credit card, that gives you the kinds of protection you need against fraud, WALK AWAY!