Illegal substances, drug paraphernalia and shady secondhand supplements are all being sold on Depop, an investigation has revealed.
MailOnline found dangerous tanning injections, needles, used ‘fertility pills’ and bongs being openly advertised on the marketplace used by children as young as 13.
It follows an investigation last week by tech magazine WIRED which found more than 200 supplements with dubious health claims listed on Depop.
The site, which takes a 10 per cent cut from all transactions, has been made popular among teenagers by Love Island stars who use it to flog their old clothes.
One seller, based in Glasgow, used the site to advertise £20 vials of the illicit tanning drug melanotan, with the option to purchase needles and wipes for an extra £5.
The advert, which did not feature any actual photos of the drug, also included nasal sprays, which deliver the drug through the nose.
A more brazen seller in South Shields used a real image of a crystalised version of the drug, adding: ‘Can sell with sterile water to mix… for injections.’
While Depop is best known for buying and selling clothes, it is becoming home to a growing unregulated market of health products and supplements.
MailOnline found a pre-owned tub of fertility supplements being sold in London for the discounted price of £20.
‘Expertly formulated to support preconception and preparation for pregnancy,’ the caption claims. ‘Has been used, used about three capsules,’ it adds.
Another user, based in Christchurch, quoted £15 for two jars of ‘Hunger Buster’ fat loss pills, one of which was opened and only had ‘around 20’ capsules left.
Drug paraphernalia such as bongs and pipes for smoking drugs and ‘coke spoons’ used to snort cocaine were also available on the app.
MailOnline found tanning injections, which are illegal to sell in the UK, being openly advertised on Depop
One seller, based in Glasgow, used the site to advertise £20 vials of melanotan, with the option to purchase needles and wipes for an extra £5
A pre-owned tub of fertility tablets being sold in London for the discounted price of £20. The London-based seller admits ‘about three capsules’ are missing
Another user, based in Christchurch, quoted £15 for two jars of ‘Hunger Buster’ fat loss pills, one of which was opened and only had ‘around 20’ capsules left
Under UK law it is illegal to ship or sell melanotan — but a legal loophole means customers are allowed to buy and own it.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has branded melanotan dangerous.
The watchdog said it has received reports of 74 separate side-effects, including acne, stomach pains, eye disorders, sickness, and even heart problems.
While it is not immediately clear if some of the listings for fertility and diet supplements are illegal or dangerous, experts warn that unsealed products could be contaminated with other substances.
Nine in 10 users of the London-based Depop app are typically aged between 16 and 26, although anyone can open an account from the age of 13.
On its website, Depop insists it prohibits the sale of drugs and drugs paraphernalia, but dealers can be found aggressively marketing their wares to children.
MailOnline found one advert for the sale of a bong in the shape of the South Park cartoon character Kenny McCormick.
Depop, which claims to buy and sell ‘the most inspiring and unique things’, is less well known than its competitors, such as eBay.
But the firm set up in 2011 already has 30million registered users and it has seen a surge in popularity following the Covid pandemic.
Since early 2020, its user base more than doubled, according to data from Statista.
Drug paraphernalia such as bongs were also found for sale – including this one in the shape of South Park character Kenny
A pipe used to smoke cannabis has four likes
This jewellry seller advertises a spoon-shaped keyring as a ‘rave essential’, listing it as a ‘ket’ [ketamine] and ‘coke spoon’
The app is credited with inspiring a generation of young entrepreneurs, while celebrities including Philip Schofield, Girls Aloud star Sarah Harding and Kate Moss’s model sister Lottie Moss have ‘shops’ on the app.
As well as drugs and paraphernalia, the investigation by WIRED found at least 208 listings for supplements and nearly 100 protein products for sale in the UK.
More than a dozen of the adverts made unfounded or misleading health claims, it found.
MailOnline has approached Depop for comment.
Anyone selling supplements online must register as a food business operator with their council because the products are legally treated as food in Britain.
But not a single seller identified by WIRED could be found on the Food Standard Agency’s (FSA) database of food businesses.
A London-based user was found to be selling skin lightening products which contain the unproven chemical antioxidant glutathione.
They boasted that the product could ‘Prevent Dull Skin Problems Dark Spots, and Increase Skin Clarity’ without evidence.
‘Extreme testosterone’ boosters marketed for male enhancement were also on sale with a discount from a highly rated seller, despite little to no evidence the supplements work.
Another London-based seller listed vitamin B5 tablets, inaccurately claiming that they can ‘reduce acne’ with no proof.
Dozens of weight loss supplements sold on eBay and Wish contain ‘dangerous’ stimulants
Dozens of weight loss supplements with potentially dangerous ingredients are being sold on popular websites, an investigation has found.
The products contain yohimbine and synephrine that are said to have ‘considerable potential to cause harm if used without medical supervision or advice’.
Experts at the consumer group Which? were able to buy nine potentially harmful products from eBay, Wish and AliExpress during the probe last August.
They were among dozens of listings for products with the suspect ingredients. Prices varied considerably with some costing as little as £2.39 and others more than £80.
The suppliers were based in countries including India, the United States, Ukraine and Poland.
Drugs containing the ingredients are only supposed to be available in the UK through a prescription.
Yohimbine and synephrine are popular among bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts, because they are thought to be powerful fat burners that suppress hunger.
The Medicine & Healthcare Regulatory Agency said products containing the two substances, which are extracted from certain herbs, are likely to be considered medicines and, as a result, it would be illegal to sell and supply them.
The websites removed the products from sale after they were alerted by Which?.
Dr James Coulson, a member of the UK Committee on Toxicology, said: ‘The critical effects we are concerned about is their effect on the sympathetic nervous system and particularly their effect on blood pressure. If you’d taken a lot of it you’d then start to see the effects of secondary organ damage.’
Sue Davies of Which? said: ‘It is concerning that our investigation has revealed these slimming supplements containing potentially dangerous ingredients are readily available on online marketplaces.
‘The limited regulation of these sites is not working – and that’s leaving people exposed to substances that can be harmful.
‘Online marketplaces must be given greater legal responsibility for the safety of products sold on their sites, so that shoppers are far better protected. Regulators also ned to be more proactive in policing potentially dangerous products.’
An eBay spokesman insisted it took the safety of users ‘extremely seriously’. Wish said it would work to prevent such products from re-listing. AliExpress said it would penalise the sellers.