More than two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese, and scammers hope to profit from the desperation many of us feel to lose weight. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that a company known as “Sale Slash” has been peddling fraudulent weight loss products, using hacked email addresses to convince readers the products were endorsed by friends or family members. Those emails often support bogus claims of incredible weight loss results with fraudulent versions of respected news websites and fabricated celebrity endorsements, adding another layer of apparent credibility to their claims.
- The product claims you will lose more than one pound per week. Diet experts believe about one pound per week is the ideal rate for healthy weight loss. Any product that claims it can shed weight faster is probably too good to be true.
- The product advertises you can lose weight without diet or exercise. It’s not fun to hear, but if you really want to lose weight, diet and exercise are the only proven and healthy paths
- Be alert if it claims you can lose weight from a specific part of your body, that a single factor is preventing your weight loss, and/or any advertisement using the words “miracle,” “trick,” “scientific breakthrough,” or “secret formula.”
- The images on the site are obvious stock photos or appear altered. If you aren’t sure if the images are authentic, use Google images to perform a reverse-image search. Google can show you all the places using a specific picture. The method for doing this varies based upon your Web browser. Just search “Reverse Image Search Google” to quickly find the instructions that will work best for you.
Google the name of the product and add the word “scam” to the search query. Simply searching for “weight loss scam” returned the following products in just a few seconds: HCG Diet Direct, Sensa Products, LeanSpa, L’Occitane, Lobster powders & creams, caffeine underwear, double shot pills, Healthe Trim, and many others.
- Always confirm that someone you really know sent you the email before you pay any money or volunteer any personal information.
- Even if a site shows the logo of a major network, that doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. Check out the other headlines the page links to. Take a look at the ads on the page. Are all the ads directing you to weight loss products or other similar businesses?
- If a “reporter” tells you about their first-hand experience with the product, be skeptical. If the claims seem incredible, be even more doubtful. Reporters don’t usually try medical products for a story and they are even less likely to do so for a long period of time.
- If a major news network were to subject a reporter to experimental medical treatments, they would most likely put the segment on television and do a lot of pre-story promotion. Weight loss offers a very dramatic visual, after all. If you don’t see the reporter describing the product on video, or if the video doesn’t look like an expensive, major-network production, it is probably fake. Scammers will take images and names from authentic news sources and use them without regard to legality, so confirm you are actually seeing the reporter talking about the product on that’s on the video.
- If you’re still unsure about a product or offer, question everything. What name did the reporter use in the video? Search for it online to make sure he or she works for that network. Look up the product and see if it’s for sale at a legitimate store. Call the friend who sent you the email. Ask your doctor.