Fake friends, fake news, phony weight-loss promises

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An email from a friend urges you to try new weight-loss pills. There’s a link to an article about a celebrity’s amazing results with the pills, and the article’s author says he even tried this miracle product himself.

With all these trusted sources, why wouldn’t you give it a try?

Because it’s all a sham, that’s why. The email is not from a friend, but from a spammer who hacked into someone’s email account. The link they sent leads to a fake news site with made up success stories. Neither celebrities nor reporters ever really endorsed the pills. And the pill, itself? Questionable, at best.

The FTC charged four defendants who used these tactics with deceptively marketing their weight-loss products. According to the FTC, they sent millions of people illegal spam emails that were made to look like they came from someone familiar. Their goal? To generate sales. The FTC says the emails linked to fake news sites with fictitious articles and phony endorsements – even, supposedly, from Oprah. What’s more, says the FTC, there’s no solid science backing the defendants’ claims about the pills.

There are a few lessons to draw from this story:

  • Don’t click emailed links or open attachments, even if you think you know the sender. Emails that seem to be from a friend might not be.
  • Intrigued by weight-loss claims? Anyone saying they lost more than a pound a week without diet and exercise is probably lying.
  • Learn how to spot a fake news site, which often include fake celebrity endorsements. These actually are elaborate ads created by marketers.
  • File a complaint with the FTC if you ever spot a scam, or get sold on phony product promises.

Comments

Thank you for the information. I noticed there are a lot of adds sponsored by a doctor or actress in reference to face creams. Thank you,

Be careful. I bought some facial products from a Doctor online. After it came it was pitiful. I had the bank change my debit card right away. I am sure they got peoples credit cards and just kept sending them stuff each month! Don't give them you credit card or debit card!

Thank you for keeping up with the latest scams and passing them on

Thank you so much for sharing this.

thank informatiom

There are so many go to sites and I know the way to lose weight. Stop the junk food.

You might want to investigate Lesea broadcasting who using a so-called doctor who tells people to take products that they sell, under making healthy choices. And they are a religious network on tv.

I think this is a great article, how come you aren't doing more than writing about it, why aren't you going after some of these face cream scams on the internet. They are everywhere, they aren't hidden, did you report them? or are you just a journalist?

The government does not have the manpower or the budget to go after every single case, so I can see why smaller cases are often neglected for a long time.

Dr Oz's everywhere nowadays.

Thanks and will observe caution

There was an ad about how Adele lost a lot of weight taking certain pills. It was even "endorsed" by Dr. Oz and was supposed to be all natural. And it was FREE, until you had to give a credit card number for shipping....right.....Delete.....

yeah just got one of these supposedly from my cousin, knew it wasn't her as it was a u.k. email plus she always says "blessings" at the end of hers and it didn't. But it was from her email list with lots of other people copied.

I have need to confirmation receiving my all true information into my account now?

Ty! For this alert. I actually have one in my texting messages about this. I seen it but, I blocked out those guys. I contacted my cellular company asking how they got on my phone? But nevertheless, I simply blocked them out.beware on texting areas as well. Thanks, for the heads up.FTC.

Hey I did reply its. saying my captcha code was attacked? I resent it ok ty for all your help.

I have been tricked into this scam even though the people who supposedly them to me would never say to me that I need to lose weight, even if it is true.

I've been noticing this kind of attack for sometime now. Many of the messages in my Spam folder look like this. I have noticed however the email address of the sender is never anyone that I know. Usually the message format is similar to others that go back to the same or very similar domain. Always check the domain (i.e. "friend@spamsite.com", where "spamsite.com" is the domain.)

Keep up the good work in catching these Bad people!!

I wish I heard about these before i chose cambodia. I have not lost any weight on this or garcinia, which was the one by Dr. Oz.

Please call your credit company and have them fight the charge and block these shameful weight loss scammers- only way to stop recurring charges.

I just filed complaint with FTC against Garcinia company out of NV concerning their cancelation policies. Something for $4.95 turns out to be 10 times that.

I see these things on TV and like the pillow one where they drop weights into one with feathers and the other eggs. I'm almost certain that the one with the eggs has a feature that this couldn't possibly happen. I see ads for so many creams. They seen to be targeting women. I know once in a while we might buy something that we shouldn't and then we learn from it. I don't believe any of these things and I wouldn't buy any thing I see off of a commercial like these. I always look at their site for comments. Good or bad before I would even buy it in a store. Thanks as always for keeping us informed.

Thanks so much for all your valuable information! And that other readers comment about face creams, weight loss gels, is spot-on.

These scams are all over the place. The network marketing companies are the worst. Wish the FTC would stick it to these companies and get them closed down permanently!!!

Thanks for the information. I forwarded to my daughters and many friends.

I receive a few of those kinds of emails on a daily basis, since I do not trust people anymore, I select all and delete all. End of story. I feel that these days everyone in the Internet world is hiding something, if you are not you are naive, if you believe everything you read you are quite gullible. All my friends were left back in kindergarten. Welcome to the real, cold world. I love the FTC., thanks guys! Good job!

Someone used my email name to send out these weight loss ads to people in my contact list. When they asked if I thought they were fat because I sent this info, I was shocked since it was not from me. Scammers are everywhere,nothing is secure anymore.

IRS at 10pm saying I owed $20K or they would
take my home. MY lawyer got the same call

Your warning is important. I have a suggestion. In the title of your article you write: "fake news". My concern is that of many others I know (family, friends, neighbors, social media connections) DO NOT KNOW of the grave injustices going on in our country. President Obama (we voted for him) promised "hope & change" yet since being in office he has not kept all his promises. While the President has been stonewalled by many opponents by those in the House & Congress, Pres. Obama has championed A BIG LIE - that whistle blowers are silenced, berated or must escape persecution & labelled "traitors" because they outed the World Bank for fraud & others who told the truth about our US citizens being spied upon (to name a few). Instead of being rewarded as in the past, whistle blowers are betrayed to the majority who listen to corporate-owned TV & radio stations. Unfortunately, most people are not able to get the truth or investigate what is REALLY HAPPENING. Why? Because most people in the US are struggling to make it with what little they are paid. Most are hurting due to the wage gaps, inequalities between men & women, time constraints in caring for their basic needs for self & family(s). So, perhaps you might be more clear on "fake news" because what we see is that there are very few "real" journalists & mostly a bunch of talking head spewing their opinions rather than FACTS to our country folk. THIS IS A TRAGEDY!

I was just contacted yesterday by a woman who said she was from Google suppport and it was IMPERATIVE that she get access to my computer because Nigerians were trying to hack my computer. Does that make sense? If they can t get in and if she can t get in does she think I am stupid? I checked it out and it is a SCAM. The phone numbers are from New York but that is not where they are.Beware of 631-223-7951 and do not call her supervisor as she suggests.

Plexus is a scam. Its a weightloss supplement that contains no active ingredients but uses megadoses of chromium. It causes profuse malodorous diarrhea and elevated LFT's. The people who push this stuff are only looking to recruit you into selling too making this a Pyramid-with-a-product scheme. They even claim that Doctors approve and when followed up, the doctors know nothing about it. PLEASE SHUT THIS COMPANY DOWN before someone DIES. Prosecute every high level "ambassador" because they KNOW its a pyramid scheme and they are hurting people to make money. PLEASE DO SOMETHING!

You can report a business to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Information you post here on the blog does not go into the law enforcement database.

Kathryn you are so right! Sadly, I'm afraid it's going to take the death of an innocent life to gain anyone's attention.

We got a call one day from the IRS demanding we send them 5k. What they didn't realize is that we just finished a BBQ and had way too many beers. We just passed the phone around and laughed at them. I think we demanded they send us 10k instead. Good times. If you know the scams you can have some cheap fun.

i gave my personal info to someone claiming they worked for NIH and i had been selected for a 14,000 dollar grant....they gave me the website www.grant.nih.gov......i thought it was true....they now have my full name, birth date, full address, social security number and drivers license number....no bank information was given....what do I do ?? What can they do to me without my bank info ? I feel totally naive....them giving me the website threw me....Please give me advice and save me from my own stupidity.....i am a single mom living with my minor child.....now i am literally scared and afraid.....all advice is welcome....thank u!!!!!

You can get information about what to do when your personal information has been lost or exposed at IdentityTheft.gov.

Because you gave your information, you might get more calls offering 'government grants' or other scams. This FTC article about government grant scams has tips.

I did the same Went Put. Three hundred on the. Green dot card. Then. The. Last. In. Washington d c. She. Took the funds. Off the card What a fool I am

I got a letter that says its from the Federal Trade Commission with $4.95 check made to me from FTC v Kevin Trudeau Qualified Settlement Fund. It says it is not the full refund and if I cash it I may get more later. The letter is signed by James Kohm Associate Director, US FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection. I wonder if this is a scam as I dont think I ever bought THE WEIGHT LOSS CURE book.

Your check from the FTC is legitimate. It is a result of a federal government lawsuit against Kevin Trudeau for false advertising. This FTC blog post has more about refunds for Kevin Trudeau's victims.

I had an email from (my son's first name only), but it didn't look like something he would send. I hovered my cursor over the email address and it was a very different address than my son's. Easy way to find out if it's really your friend that's sending the email.

an ad came through on Facebook for Skin Noir/ Eye Noir and offered "free trial"- they ended up charging me $180. No address to return products to. SCAM

Reminds me of the old adage, "if it seems too good to be true, it is!"

Products endorsed by celebrities are a red flag for me and turn me off from their product. I don't understand celebrity endorsement appeal to others. Celebrities are only into the product endorsement business for easy money from sucker consumers. I think 99% of weight loss plans/products are scams designed to prey on the desperation of a mostly overweight country, simply because they're easy pickins. Desperation outweighs common sense; makes for a mine field of unscrupulous businesses in the weight loss business.

Illumagen face cream..total scam. Products don't work, trial cost $4.95 for "shipping" and if you don't cancel your "free trial" within 13 days they'll charge your CC $89.97 for one product and $85.97 for the other! Products turned my face bright red..totally crap.

I get emails that claim they're from friends and to click a link. I did click a link once and some doctor was talking about belly fat! I quickly realized it was not from a friend and deleted the message. But I still get these emails! Should I forward these emails to FTC? And then delete them?

It's ok to just delete them. Let your friend know that someone  hacked into her address book, and is sending out emails using her email address.

How about a product distributed by Premium Products New Castle DE 19720. My better half bought pills and there is no company name! They supposedly stop Diabetes. I think it is a scam but I can't find anything specific to convince him. It is Forskolin.

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