What is exactly the difference between höhnen and verhöhnen, and also between spotten and verspotten? The differentiation in dictionaries is not clear, but I assume they are not the same thing in practice.
The ver- variants are transitive:
Er spottete über das neue Produkt.
Er verspottete seinen Chef.
The transitive version feels more "personal", you'd probably use 1. for things (or maybe talking badly about someone behind their back), and 2. for people that are present. But that's just my feeling as a native speaker.
I'm not sure if I've heard höhnen (without ver) before.