The beginning of a new year is a time to reflect on the past and identify needed changes for the coming year. Losing weight is sure to be at the top of the resolution list for many people as they search for the trendiest diet to shave off inches fast. And the weight loss industry patiently sits back ready to pounce as they anticipate their yearly $60 billion residuals.
While some companies promote legitimate weight loss programs, many do not. Unfortunately, the consumer can experience financial loss from supplements that do not work, as well as harmful side effects that can cause long-term damage. A recent FTC survey indicates that more consumers have been victims of fraudulent weight-loss products than other fraudulent products currently on the market. In fact, an estimated 2.1 percent of consumers, or 5.1 million U.S. adults, recently purchased and used such fraudulent weight-loss products.
The team at Sitejabber has noticed an increase in reported diet scams, to include:
- MLM Scams: Diet supplements are often sold in a multi-level marketing system, or MLM, because participants can make money fast by getting their friends to join and buy the weight loss products. Sitejabber readers noted in 2015 that Herbalife, through their cohorts of multilevel marketing, ropes you into their scam by promising improved health, but the various practices they follow have proven that they are a scam and a bunch of cheaters. Subsequently, in 2017 the FTC ruled against Herbalife and sent checks to nearly 350,000 victims of their MLM scheme. So, when someone asks you to buy into their diet, healthy living, or weight loss products, be sure to do your research prior to joining them.
- Celebrity-Endorsed Diet Scams: Celebrity weight loss scams are a common occurrence. Many online companies use fake celebrity endorsements from people like Dr. Oz or Oprah to sell their products. Pure Garcinia Cambodia is one of the many fake celebrity-endorsed weight loss products. Sitejabber reviewers assert, “Another miracle weight loss garbage product you have only heard of in spam emails or overhyped horrible infomercials!! Save your money. These sites are always scams!!”In December 2017, the FTC sent refund checks totaling more than $8 Million to consumers who bought deceptively marketed weight-loss supplements by the company Sale Slash, LLC, after they were charged with using false weight loss claims and unauthorized endorsements from celebrities like Oprah to market unproven diet pills. Premium Green Coffee, Pure Garcinia Cambodia, Premium White Kidney Bean Extract, Pure Forskolin Extract, and Pure Caralluma Fimbriata Extract are some of the products that were falsely recommended. The next time you see a celebrity endorsing a diet pill, make sure you do your research first.
- Free Trial Scams: Many weight loss companies offer a free trial, but when you sign up using a credit card, you may be charged for an ongoing subscription that never ends or an initial high amount for some unknown reason. Donna writes, “The link that appears on Facebook states the 14-day trial is FREE; all you pay is $4.95 shipping and handling. I received the order 7 days later. Eight capsules/days later, I had a charge of $79.25 posted to my account.” Always be wary when a company is offering a free trial for a product and requires a credit card. Some Sitejabber contributors have suggested using a prepaid credit card with limited funds for shipping and handling purposes.
- HCG Scams: HCG is a hormone made by the human placenta and has grown in popularity as a diet drug. However, as of December 6, 2011, the United States FDA has prohibited the sale of “homeopathic” and over-the-counter HCG diet products, declaring them both fraudulent and illegal. Yet it is still being sold online. Kitty B writes, “This company is a rip off!! I was not losing fat. I was losing muscle!! I was basically starving myself.” Not only are over-the-counter HCG diet products illegal, but there can be serious health risks associated with these products.
- Fake News Sites: Some diet companies have websites that appear to look like a real news site in their attempts to convince consumers to buy their diet products. Fake news sites sell everything from diet pills to work-at-home scams. They often use website names and URLs that seem legitimate. These sites change almost daily, so they are difficult to track. It’s important for consumers to verify that they are on a real news website and not one meant to steal their identity or sell scam products. A classic example of a fake news site is a URL such as msnbc.msn.com-id8.us. This site was already taken down, but it appears to be MSNBC to the casual observer. Mai N pointed out that this site is a “FAKE NEWS SITE -….Illegal Phishing/ID Theft Scams…. User beware. Do not become their next victim.”
Weight loss is never easy, but for your convenience, the Sitejabber community recommended their top weight loss sites for 2017. If you have used products from other websites with positive results, tell us on Sitejabber by writing a review. We look forward to hearing from you!