CHICAGO, IL – With swimsuit season quickly approaching, now is the time when people are in a hurry to lose weight. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers of scammers selling phony weight loss products. Con artists create fake emails and websites to lure in buyers. The weight loss supplements are often filled with unauthorized endorsements from celebrity Oprah Winfrey.
The scam works when the recipient opens an email from a friend containing a short message saying “Breaking News” or a celebrity greeting. When the link is clicked it leads to a fake news website promoting a weight loss supplement filled with statements from doctors and established news reporters. Ads on the website often contain claims such as “1 tip for a tiny belly.”
“Scammers are hacking into email accounts and sending out messages to everyone on the victims’ contact list,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Consumers who wish to lose weight need to understand there are no magic answers to weight loss.”
These products may show unrealistic “before and after” photos, promise to burn as much as 25 pounds a month without diet or exercise,Â guarantee permanent weight loss, fail to disclose whether results are typical or use logos of news organizations with fake or altered media coverage of the pills.
BBB has tips to how to spot a fake news site:
- Be skeptical of exaggerated claims. Ignore any product that promises out-of-the-ordinary results or dramatic changes within a short period.Â There are no instant fixes.
- Be selective about your online research. Rather than doing a quick search through an online search engine, when you look for information on supplements, use respected websites run by the government, a university or reputable medical database.
- Don’t believe what you see. The site may have the logo of a legitimate news organization and photographs of reporters, but this can be easily copied from the real website.
- Look for “first-hand” experience. These sites typically contain articles where “reporters” write about their first-hand experience using the product. The reporter claims a dramatic weight loss – like 25 lbs over several weeks – with little or no change in diet or exercise.
- The site has testimonials and “free” trail links. These fake news sites have testimonials or comments from supposedly satisfied customers on the site. TheÂ website contains links to other websites where you can buy theÂ “weight loss” products or sign up for a “free” trial.