There are several methods the scammers use, and we have become familiar with them all. Its almost like there is a step by step plan and when you have been researching the diet pill industry as long as us, you can spot them a mile off.
Lets look at each of these in turn and hopefully we can help you avoid falling for a diet pill scam.
There has been an explosion in this area in recent years, but it seems like the FTC might finally be catching up with these rogue traders.
This is how it works:
The scammer usually sets up a one page landing page offering a “free” trial of the product. They then advertise with banner ads (amongst other things) on legitimate websites including very honest and trustful sites.
Because the customer sees the ads on the legitimate sites then by association you think it is recommended by the site you are on. So you could be on a hugely popular and legitimate health site for instance and see an ad for a diet pill. If you are interested then you will click on the ad and be taken to the “free” trial landing page.
These pages are cleverly worded to make you think you are only paying for shipping and handling of a few dollars, and in return you are actually signing up for a recurring payment. The really dodgy guys then immediately charge your account for the full amount and then keep charging your card every month.
It is a nightmare trying to get out of one of these sign ups, as it is virtually impossible to get hold of the company involved. This is one of the main reasons we also advise to never deal with ANY company who doesn’t show their real address.
A recent high profile case has highlighted how bad this is. Recently the US Government caught up and convicted a notorious free trial scammer by the name of Jesse Willms: http://ftc.gov/opa/2012/02/willms.shtm
He along with several other diet pill scammers from Utah: http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/money/51832340-79/media-consumers-com-lawsuit.html.csp were said to be involved in fraud worth nearly half a billion dollars.
The final figure was actually a fine of $359 million which is a staggering amount of money. Not all of this was diet related but a huge part was and is just one example of how much money the free trial diet pill scammers make.
NEVER SIGN UP FOR DIET PILL FREE TRIALS
Closely related to the free trials scams is another tactic they use. This has died off a little bit now as the FTC catches up with them, but it help rip off thousands of people.
Basically they would set up sites to look like fake news sites, and in many cases use a picture of the French TV personality Melissa Theuriau. This was to make it look like an official news site where a real reporter was supposedly reporting on an amazing weight loss discovery. The surfer was then duped into signing up for one of the dodgy free trial diet pill offers or a colon cleanser.
The common theme amongst these sites was that they would promise huge weight loss with very little effort, and had lurid headlines promising all sorts:
If you ever come across any of these fake news sites, then virtually every single on of them is a con.
NEVER BUY FROM A FAKE NEWS SITE
This is still a big problem, and it still quite prolific, but we are sure the FTC is going to catch up with these guys.
The diet pill scammers set up lots of fake review sites, and normally rate the diet pills in one way or another. However the products that are being rated all belong to the same people who have overall control of the review sites.
So unsuspecting customers can land on one of the fake review sites, by clicking on a paid advert, or on a site ranking high in the search engines. They then see a supposedly independent review of the products, when all the time it’s more than likely the same person writing the reviews as owns the actual diet pill product.
This is against FTC rules, as review sites must show that they are being paid if they receive a commission. However none of these sites do this. This is one of the few ways that a customer can spot this, but for the average person it is difficult to spot.
These guys are incredibly devious and go to great lengths to hide things but they still slip up from time to time. Normally a big giveaway is the payment processor they use, the same review sites reviewing the same products all send the traffic to the same payment processor. This is why we try and do in depth research in this area, the more the FTC can crack down on this the better it is going to be for everyone.
Another tip to look for is if the diet pill site doesn’t show a valid address where they can be contacted. This normally means they have something to hide; in this case they are trying to hide the links between themselves and the fake review sites. Most of the sites that use these tactics are US based so hopefully this will be the next target for the FTC. We just hope not too many people get scammed in the meantime.
NEVER BUY DIET PILLS FROM FAKE REVIEW SITES
This is very hard to spot as in most cases the diet pill scams simply make up whatever they want. Some of them cover themselves by putting a disclaimer in small text saying something like “results not typical”. This is not always the case though and some are so blatantly made up that it is impossible to believe them.
Another giveaway that it is normally a scam, is that they show pictures of random people and put another disclaimer that it is “stock photography”. This is a clever trick to make you associate the weight loss results the may have made up with the nice looking person in the picture. If you see a site doing this then its best to avoid whatever they are trying to flog.
As well as this, if they don’t show before and after pictures of someone’s amazing weight loss then again it is normally a sign the testimonial is fake.
Recently we came across another trick for websites that have multiple languages, this time they use the same imagery, normally a before and after shot, then change the name and weight loos achieved to suit the specific country they are targeting. This is hard to spot for the normal surfer as they wouldn’t normally look at other websites in a different language, but it is something we are now taking a closer eye on.
As you can see spotting fake testimonials are very hard to spot, this is why the dodgy scam diet pill companies carry on using it.
ALWAYS BE WARY OF FAKE DIET PILL TESTIMONIALS
Recently we came across one of the scam sites that looked like the copywriter was high on drugs when he wrote it.
It was full of pseudo scientific speak trying to make you think that it was actual scientists who had written it. If you see a site waffling on in fake scientific terms about totally unproveable facts then it is normally designed to try and trick you.
The average consumer will not fully understand all the terms involved with diet pills and the evidence surrounding them, so these dodgy diet pill companies literally try and blind you with science.
If a diet pill site is full of strange scientific terms, and you don’t really understand what they are saying then usually they are trying to use this technique. Stick to sites that spell out clearly and easily exactly what the product is supposed to do.
Lastly if a diet pill site does not clearly give you their contact details then run a mile. If you can’t easily find an address on the front page or the contact page then get out of there fast.
Why do they do this? They are making it as difficult as possible for you to get hold of them. This is so they can avoid fulfilling any guarantees they might have in place or simply to avoid potential legal action.
We have also seen many sites that have shown the address of their fulfilment company. These are the people who ship the diet pills out to you, and not necessarily the people behind the scam itself. If you try to get hold of the company through this address it is simply passed on to someone else.
NEVER BUY DIET PILLS FROM A SITE THAT DOES NOT SHOW THEIR FULL ADDRESS
Here at the diet pills watchdog we have made it our mission to expose the diet pill scams wherever we can. If you have been the victim of a diet pill company then get in touch now and we will look into it for you.
Alternatively, only the companies that meet our strict requirements make it on to the approved list. You can be assured that none of the approved diet pills use any of the tactics described above to try and rip you off.