It doesn't take long of looking at various sites to figure out a few legit suppliers. If you are in the U.S. there are plenty of UGLs with relatively low risk to the end user to make a purchase. Even with today's F'd up laws in the U.S. personal use is very low priority by LE. They want suppliers for the news headlines, not Joe Blow working out in his garage.
When you look at review sites and such, look for time and variety. Just like Yelp or any review site, someone new with a lot of one review reviewers might be suspicious, but someone around for some time and a wide variety of user feedback is likely legit. Even "legit" suppliers can have issues so expect to lose every now and then.
If you total want to spend $1000 on gear, break your orders into smaller amounts. Factor in loss as part of your overall cost. You drive a car, you are are going to get traffic and parking tickets now and then, just part of the game.