RICHMOND — Counterfeiting is a problem when it comes to e-cigarette products, which could make it even harder for users — including teenagers — to tell exactly what they're inhaling.
Jesse Service had just bought one of his favorite e-cigarette brands from his nearby corner store for about $15 cheaper than he's used to paying.
"I popped a pod and you could just tell immediately," Service said. "Anybody who's ever smoked a regular Mango Juul - it's just so much different."
Service thought he was buying mango flavored Juul brand e-cigarette, even though RTV6 found out from the company that they don't sell flavored products anymore, aside from Menthol. A move made to cut back on underage use.
"I think it's a huge concern for teens and they all like the mango," Service said.
A Juul spokesman says the counterfeiting of their products is a big problem the company is working to stop because often, they are the flavors kids favor. They're working with border patrol agencies to stop the flood of illegitimate, fake products that often originate in China.
"You never know how grotesque the laboratory that they're making these pods is," Service said. "They really are really really good at making them look legitimate."
U.S. Customs and border patrol officers seized over 1,100 counterfeit Juul pods in April in Philadelphia worth around $5,000.
A spokesman from customs and border patrol says counterfeit products that are inhaled pose an even greater danger to consumers because there is no way to verify the product's ingredients and say real Juul pods are made and regulated by the U.S. government.
Only on close examination and after he used it could Service tell he had a fake. He says he got his money back from the gas station he bought that fake pods from and hopes they stop selling it.
"My only intentions were just to kind of spread around to everybody that you gotta pay attention," Service said.
The customs and border protection spokesman said they take counterfeiting seriously because of the dangers these products pose to American consumers.