Costco Makes it Clear: Bulk Cigarette Buys to Be Scrutinized

After a News4 I-Team investigation, Costco has begun making it clear: The store will scrutinize bulk purchases of cigarettes in Virginia.

The big-box chain has begun posting new signs in its Virginia stores that say Costco requires tobacco purchasers show additional ID, complete specific IRS forms for cash purchases over three thousand dollars and provide their license plate for transporting cigarettes.

The signs went up after the News4 I-Team reported that Virginia tax officials were concerned about cigarette traffickers buying product from stores like Costco and Sams and selling them on the black market. Smugglers can make big profits selling smokes in other states for more than they paid at the stores.

News4 I-Team undercover cameras caught alleged smugglers buying huge loads of cigarettes at one time. Some spent tens of thousands of dollars in cash, and bought so much product they needed help wheeling the cartloads out of the store.

The buyers said they represented businesses, and listed business addresses, some of which the I-Team traced back to a private home and even a vacant lot.

Costco did not respond to a request for comment about why they posted the signs.  

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