We were asked to investigate Avilean by one of our readers who unfortunately had felt hey had been ripped off. We hadn’t heard of them before so in true Watchdog fashion we started trawling the Internet to see what we could uncover.
Is Avilean a product that could go on our approved list, or is there something a little bit more deceitful behind the whole thing? After a couple of days investigating, the facts we found surprised even us!
- Owned by a convicted felon
- Clever manipulation techniques
- Proprietary blend of ingredients
- You might not be aware what you are signing up for
Watchdog Rejected Diet Pills
It was hard deciding where to start with this one, the product itself is nothing ground-breaking at all, but the story behind the whole thing is what is more interesting.
We thought it was time to lift the lid on these guys and as result shed some light on one shameful aspect of the diet pill industry. Let’s take a quick look at Avilean itself then on to the main story.
- Pushed on convincing looking fake news sites
- Contains a proprietary blend, so you don’t know what your taking!
- Website designed to mislead you if you are not careful
What Does Avilean Claim To Do?
As you can see from the landing page the main claim is that Avilean is a fat burner. And from the sneaky use of the Union Jack Flag, then it’s aimed fairly and squarely at the U.K. market. There’s a very specific reason for this, but more on that later.
So What Is Avilean and What Are The Ingredients For Avilean?
Bit of a tricky one this, because they don’t offer any details whatsoever! Certainly not on the site we looked at above, there is absolutely nothing to indicate what Avilean contains or what it is made of.
A bit more digging around and we found some details on another website. It seems Avilean is a Proprietary Blend consisting of:
- Amylezene: (pronounced Uh-MY-LUH-ZENE) Fractionated Bean Extract Standardized to 3000 AAIU. This is likely to be white kidney bean extract, and is meant to block the absorption of carbohydrates in the diet. We could not find ANY clinical research into Amylezene at all. We think they may well have made this name up.
- Standardized Green Tea Extract: Yielding 135 mg EGCG and 75mg caffeine. Doesn’t appear to be enough of this ingredient to have any effect on burning fat.
- 5-HTP: This is a naturally occurring amino acid found in turkey, milk, potatoes and greens. It is said to suppress the appetite and help depression.
- Acai Berry Powder: An anti-oxidant high in anthocyanins. Has been very popular in diet pills for a number of years. No indication how much is included in this formula.
- White Tea Extract: Like black and green tea, white tea is also derived from Camellia sinensis. Thus, white tea shares many of the same chemical properties and health effects of tea.
- Oolong Tea Extract: Another form of tea as per white tea above, no indication of the extract used and for what reason.
- Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D3: Standard vitamins found in the every day diet in sufficient quantities. No indication why they are included in Avilean.
So What Does All This Mean?
Not a lot really, it is impossible to make an informed decision about Avilean, as there is no indication as to its exact composition. You would be quite literally buying it on a wing and a prayer, hoping that it might be effective for weight loss.
With no clinical evidence presented into even the ingredients in Avilean, and a total lack of any real information, we would hazard a guess that it’s pretty much useless as an aid to weight loss. It would be nice to see something suggesting otherwise.
Does Avilean Have Any Side Effects?
Again, we have no idea. By hiding the ingredients in Avilean then no one can know, until possibly it’s too late.
We would never advise you consumed a diet pill if you don’t know what is in it.
Okay, So Avilean Itself is Nothing Special, Right?
It would be fair to make that assumption, based on the lack of information and scientific research presented.
So What’s The Bigger Picture Behind Avilean?
As mentioned very early on in this investigation, the disturbing information is how Avilean is promoted, and the people behind Avilean. It’s a very well constructed set-up, which has taken much testing and tweaking to become a money-generating monster.
STEP 1 – The advert
It all starts with adverts you might see every day that you go online:
You will have seen these all over the place including on some very high profile “legitimate” websites like CNN, Yahoo, AOL, and BBC etc. This is the first part of this diet pill “scam”. By advertising on these popular and honest websites it gives the first air of respectability.
If you see an advert like this on one of the “big” sites, it’s got to be honest right? Of course, this is exactly what they want you to think, and the first part of the scam is set in motion.
These adverts are deliberately designed to look amateurish to catch your eye as you surf. They have proven that these ads work the best, as opposed to swish professional looking adverts.
STEP 2: The fake news site
Okay, so you have fallen for the first part of the scam by clicking on the advert, the next step is to take you to a “fake” news site:
Here you land on a legitimate looking news website, BUT it is completely fake. The idea is to once more think it’s the real thing; a real reporter has actually investigated these products and is so impressed she (it’s usually a she) is more than happy to recommend them.
And here’s the really good part, you can actually try these magical products out on a “free trial”. That’s right it will only cost you a few dollars or pounds for a “free trial” of the product.
What have you got to lose!!
Err…..quite a lot actually. More on that in a minute.
You will notice how they have used the logos from high profile websites like the BBC and Sky, once more this is another trick to help their credibility. You may well have clicked on one of the adverts they run on these sites to get to this page, so it once more makes you fell happy that what you are reading might actually be true.
An interesting point is that these fake news sites have now been deemed to be illegal by the FTC in America, and people running them to scam customers have been fined millions of dollars.
This is exactly why they are now seen in the U.K! The scammers risk massive fines if they are found running them to U.S. customers so are now turning their attentions to the UK market where the OFT is much further behind the FTC in cracking down on them.
This had led to an explosion of these scams being targeted directly at U.K. consumers.
So now Part 2 of the diet pill scam is in place. You’ve seen the advert on a legitimate site and out of curiosity have clicked through to the fake news site.
The fake news site also looks legitimate and with the use of clever tricks, leads you into thinking you will be getting a “free trail” of these wonder pills.
Important Point: We must just add here, that the people supplying the products do not necessarily run the adverts and fake news sites.
No, a nice little tactic is for the product merchant to pay for affiliates to do all the dirty work. They pay an advertising network say $50 for every signup they send to the merchant. The advertising network then pays affiliates a cut of this, say $40 to get the referrals for them.
It’s all part of the dirty chain of money that swills about, all with a view to getting you the customer to part with their cash, whether knowingly or not.
So now you click on the link promising you the “free trials” and you are almost suckered in, on to the next step…
STEP 3: The fake “free trial”
Now for the next part of the “scam”, you now land on the main product website, offering the “trial”. This time because of the rules imposed by the FTC, in regards to saying it’s a free trial, they have dropped the “free” part and are stating it’s simply an “exclusive trial” but the fake news site has done the damage.
You still have it in your mind it’s only going to cost you £3.48 to cover shipping and handling, and you are convinced it works, because the nice “reporter” say’s it does!
BOOM. You happily fill in your details and everyone’s happy. That is unless you read the small print and realise EXACTLY what you are signing up to.
They have another sneaky tactic on the order page where you fill in your credit card details, there’s a little box you must tick which is cleverly worded:
Yes that little box is the one that will cause you a whole world of pain. You may quickly click it, as you think you are certifying you are over 18 (of course) but you are also agreeing that you agree to the terms of the sale! As many people don’t always trawl through the whole of the terms then this is exactly where they have got you hook, line and sinker.
Under the FTC rules they have to prominently show these terms on the exact order page as well, but they have another little trick here as well. Here they use some “trust” logo’s to make you think the terms have been approved by these organisations:
STEP 4: The Cash Grab
Now for the final part of the “scam.”
By ticking that little box you may well have now agreed for them to take £69.95 from your credit card 14 days after you clicked the order button. It also say’s that this will repeat every 30 days forever and ever!
You have agreed to sign up to their “lifestyle program” where a new bottle will be sent automatically.
The best part is that you may well have signed up for the other “free trial” the fake news site recommended, so you now get a double whammy. You could find your card debited £150 after the 14 days is up, if you signed up to both of them!
So there you have it, exactly how you are lulled into signing up for something you might not actually realise.
Any Avilean Reviews From Customers?
Of course, when you run something like this you are going to get a ton of complaints when people realise they have fallen for it. As always it a case of “buyer beware” but they rely on people not being as clued up as they could be on things.
A quick search and a whole raft of complaints comes up:
Virtually everyone falls for the same thing, they do not know exactly what they are signing up for.
So Does Avilean Work?
Extremely unlikely, it’s purely designed to be a money maker.
Where Can I Buy Avilean?
Avilean is only available online, bits once more it’s a fairly complex web.
The site featured above the. co.uk version of the site targeting U.K. customers (to try and avoid FTC regulations) is owned by Ragingbull Media in America.
Quite helpfully they have used their real address so it’s quite easy to dig a bit further. Thomas Cheng owns Ragingbull Media:
As well as Ragingbull Media he is also the guy behind Cheng Properties LLC, Health Solutions Network LLC, Natural Health Network LLC, and (importantly) Pinnacle Marketing Concepts Inc.
So Why is Pinnacle Marketing Concepts Inc. Important?
Well now things start to get really interesting, Thomas Cheng and Pinnacle were fined a massive amount of money in 2005 for deceptive advertising with a previous product, Cortislim.
Cheng and his Brea-based Pinnacle Marketing Concepts agreed to give the FTC $700,000 cash, a $215,000 boat, a $40,000 Ford truck, $450,000 from real estate and $2 million from a charitable foundation and investment partnership funded by Cortislim profits.
Cortislim was heavily promoted with false infomercials on late night TV and became well known at the time. Millions of people fell for the scam with estimates showing a gross income of $200 million!
One of the clauses of the ruling was that Thomas Cheng must never:
The orders also bar misrepresentations of any tests or studies and prohibit claims about the performance, effects on weight, or other health benefits of any dietary supplement, food, drug, cosmetic, or device unless the claims are true, not misleading, and substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.
It would be interesting to see what the FTC think of the Avilean website!
So Thomas Cheng has a Track Record for Deceiving People?
Unfortunately it’s a big Yes.
It will comes as no surprise to you, that Thomas Cheng has had a pretty big run in with the Authorities to the tune of fines totalling $3.4 million dollars!
But, its get’s even worse; in 1996 Thomas Cheng was imprisoned for a huge CD fraud:
“In 1996, Window Rock President Stephen Cheng and his brother, Thomas, were arrested by undercover U.S. Customs Service agents for importing 100,000 bootleg CDs of concerts by the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, Bob Dylan and others.
“They were the largest distributors of bootlegs in the U.S.,” says attorney Brian Phillips, who prosecuted the case in Orlando, Fla. “They were savvy, focused entrepreneurs.”
After their arrests, the brothers cooperated with U.S. Customs to set up a sting at Disney World that nabbed 11 more bootleggers. Thomas was eventually sentenced to 21 months in prison for conspiring to sell unauthorized concert recordings; Stephen got 15 months.
So let’s get this right, the guy who owns Avilean, was imprisoned for 21 months in 1996 for fraud, then fined $3.4 Million in 2005 for a diet pill scam?
Unfortunately that is the long and short of the whole sorry mess.
So What Other Sites Are Involved?
Well there’s no end to be honest, a quick look around and we found a fake news site on a domain owned by ones of Thomas Chengs companies:
All totally outlawed by the FTC but he’s pushing it to the UK now, hoping for another payday. You will notice the site is pushing two products owned by Thomas Cheng, Slimvida and Colon Flow; this is perfect evidence that he is using these fake sites to push his own products
Run a mile!
Please do not ever sign up for a diet pill trial (or any other product for that matter). 99.9% are simply scams designed to trick you out of your money.
You can see what type of people we are dealing with here, they usually have some form of criminal record or altercations with the FTC, so it’s fair that scamming people is pretty much par for the course.
Watchdog Rejected Diet Pills
Consumer Tip: A recent comment provided on this review (Thanks Julie) has notified us that you can contact them directly by calling the following number, 0080024005500. Be aware this is a number in the US so be wary of call charges.
Are you trying to get your money-back from the Avilean free trial?
Read our FREE GUIDE to getting refunds from free trial diet pill scams by clicking here.
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