What's Really for Sale

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) A tip lead us to the internet. The Chemical Consulting Network wasn't hard to find. Crystal meth, ketamine, hydrocodone: Pick a drug and this company promises to sell it to you.

Vermont State Police Det. Lt. Lance Burnham says it's possible to buy illegal drugs online.

"You absolutely can," Burnham said.

But those transactions are usually hidden on the dark web, an unmonitored internet underground and a haven for criminal activity, unlike this website you can find with a Google search.

The company tries hard not to appear nefarious, telling customers it's approved by the Better Business Bureau and its high-purity products don't have side effects.

Reporter Jennifer Costa: Does it look like a reputable website?
Det. Lt. Lance Burnham: It's not bad.

Look closely at where the Chemical Consulting Network claims it's located: Burlington, Vermont. More specifically Switchback Brewery.

"Oh wow," said Abbe Malcolm of Switchback. "Yup. That's our... that's our address."

We shocked the marketing manager with our discovery.

"Definitely not something we want to be associated with at all," Malcolm said.

Click on Chemical Consulting Network's Facebook page and you get a different address, one for another reputable Vermont business: Cheese and Wine Traders in South Burlington.

"It just kind of comes out of left field and it just worries you about the reputation of your business," said John Howard of Cheese and Wine Traders.

Both Switchback and Cheese and Wine Traders were puzzled why the mystery company would steal their addresses for its own illegal activity.

"It's a little scary," Howard said. "You think that you are safe but I guess no one is safe."

"This really does appear to be a scam," Burnham said.

We asked the Vermont State Police to review the website. The intelligence team and newly created technology investigation unit determined the site has been up for less than 150 days. They tell us it's likely based overseas-- definitely not in Vermont-- and the addresses were probably picked at random.

Jennifer Costa: Why the nexus to Vermont?
Det. Lt. Lance Burnham: When you have an address, it makes people comfortable... That gets people to open up their wallets. It gets them to be more trusting.

We had a lot of questions for the Chemical Consulting Network but when we tried to reach the company there was no answer and no callback. Burnham tells us an internet phone number is yet another red flag, along with the site's numerous spelling errors and general inaccuracies.

Still, it only takes a few buyers for these sophisticated scammers to make a quick buck, which is why Burnham's new unit is so busy. He says technology plays a role in nearly every crime. Now, hand-picked investigators are getting special training to crack these kinds of cases.

"If we can gather that evidence, get our hands on a suspect, then good old-fashioned police work takes over," Burnham said.

And, in this case, if someone actually went through with a purchase?

"My guess is that they would be out their money and be waiting for a package that was never going to arrive," Burnham said.

Or it could just be a ploy to steal credit card numbers. Either way, this scam creates a perfectly silent victim.

"No one is going to report that I tried to buy crystal meth online and now my credit's shot," Burnham said.

State police say until there's a victim willing to make a report, it doesn't make sense to devote additional resources to investigate further. Switchback plans to call Google to fix the search result and Cheese Traders contacted Facebook while we were in the store.