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How to Tell if You Have a Fake Disposable Nicotine Vape

Jeremy Mann
September 20, 2023

Counterfeit disposable nicotine vapes exist. It’s an unfortunate and sad reality. The good news is that purchasing from a reputable retailer, whether an online or a physical shop, is the absolute best defense against inadvertently buying a bootleg vape like a counterfeit Elf Bar or a fake Flume.

Besides buying from a reputable retailer, which may not always be so cut and dried, there are a few ways to check the authenticity of your vape, if you have your doubts. Even if you aren’t concerned about your device, it’s a good idea to randomly verify your disposable vape purchases.

three different elf bar 600 watermelon disposables
Elf Bar 600 - l. fake, m. NL/UK, r. GER

Verify the authenticity of your disposable vape

Every legitimate disposable nicotine vape is sold in packaging with all the verification checks included on the packaging. That means that you must have your original packaging to verify the authenticity of your device.

Somewhere on the packaging, you’ll find an authenticity sticker. This sticker will usually have a hologram, a QR code, and a scratch-off label hiding a security code. There may be an additional QR code for tech support somewhere on the packaging, so keep that in mind when looking for the verification QR code.

Hologram: The hologram will display the brand name or logo. Look to see that the font and overall appearance of the image look legitimate. Many times counterfeit devices will have incorrect fonts or styling that doesn’t match. ‘

QR (verification) code: Take a picture of the QR code with a smartphone, and it’ll take you to the manufacturer’s website verification page. Make sure that you’re on the actual manufacturer’s website.

Scratch-off/security code: Under the scratch-off, you’ll find a special code to be input into the verification checker on the page the QR code sent you to. Make sure all the characters are correctly input so as to not get a false negative.

More tips to avoid fake disposable vapes

The main two ways to avoid buying a counterfeit vape are to check the verification code and to buy from a reputable retailer. The catch is that to verify via the verification code, you’d have already purchased the device—assuming you’re not scratching off every verification label in a store! And if you purchase online, you obviously can’t run a check unless you have the box in hand.

Here are a few tips to keep you and your disposable vape purchases protected:

  • Only purchase from reputable retailers online or in physical shops.
    • Check reviews of the store if you’re unsure
    • Smoke and vape shops are advisable
    • Be cautious of seedy gas stations that openly sell synthetic drugs and dangerous weapons at the checkout.
  • Look closely at the packaging of the device for any signs of tampering. Authentic disposable devices come in factory-sealed packaging.
  • Never purchase a disposable that does not come in a sealed package.
  • Inspect the packaging for misspelled words or shoddy print jobs. Oftentimes, the most difficult things to “clone” or to counterfeit well are not the actual product but the product packaging.
    • Beware of double printing (the text will look as if it’s been imperfectly printed twice)
    • Beware of misspelled words, particularly of the product or brand name. Although most of these products will be from China, where English misspellings can happen on authentic products, what cannot be misspelled is the product and or brand names.
  • Be careful with bundle deals that seem too-good-to-be-true.
  • Don’t buy disposables from mega marketplaces like Alibaba.

What to do if you have a counterfeit disposable vape?

Immediately cease usage of the device. Don’t buy any more vape products from that retailer. You can try and return it to the store you bought it from, but it’s unlikely to result in a refund. After all, if a store sells counterfeit products, it’s likely they don’t have any integrity, nor would they be willing to stand by the product.

Unfortunately, contacting the original manufacturer isn’t going to yield any results either since it wasn’t their product you actually bought.

*If you feel unwell after using a device determined to be counterfeit, consult with your doctor. Save the device, just in case.

Don’t some vapers like “clone” vapes?

As mentioned, counterfeit vapes have been around for a long time. Interestingly, there are a lot of vapers that willingly purchase counterfeit vape products. But that pertains to hardware only. The difference between something like an Elf Bar clone and a Kayfun clone is that the former is a cheap consumable, and the latter is expensive hardware.

Disposable devices come prefilled with eliquid containing nicotine. Considering that, it’s ill-advised to ever conflate so-called clone hardware vapes with counterfeit disposables. Apples and oranges.

I'm a freelance reviewer here at Vaping360 and I reside in southeast Michigan. I've been vaping since my first ecig purchase in 2010. For more reasons than I can list, vaping has been a lifesaver for me. Now, my goal is to help other smokers make the switch.
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