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Is Your Fake Friend a Weight Loss Phony?

Tim Boyer's picture
Phony weight loss scams

Here’s how to spot a fake friend trying to sell you onto a weight loss scam and what you should do when you spot one.


The Federal Trade Commission recently warned consumers that the next time you receive an e-mail from a friend who tells you they’ve found a new weight loss product that really works, that it’s time to select the spam button on your e-mail service and disregard their “friendly” advice.

As it turns out, even though the e-mail message appears to be from someone on your e-mail contact list, more likely than not it’s from a spammer who hacked into someone’s e-mail account and is sending links to fake news site with made up success stories naming celebrities and/or health experts who never endorsed the linked weight loss product.

Recently, consumers duped by similar ads were entitled to a refund for this bogus weight loss product.

According to the FTC, this warning comes following the Federal Trade Commission charging a Florida-based affiliate marketing operation with luring unsuspecting consumers with illegal spam e-mail in an attempt to sell them bogus weight-loss products using false celebrity endorsements such as Dr. Oz who warned viewers about fake drugs advertised with his name and image.

“These defendants used a variety of deceptive tactics to sell their bogus diet pills,” said Jessica Rich, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But we have a clear message for them―we want their illegal practices to stop and we want to give people back the money they took.”

In a news release, the FTC states that Colby Fox, Christopher Reinhold and their companies, Tachht, Inc. and Teqqi, LLC, paid for e-mails to be sent to consumers from hacked email accounts, making it appear to consumers that the messages came from their family members, friends, or other contacts. These email messages lured consumers into clicking on links that led to websites deceptively promoting the defendants’ unproven weight-loss products, such as Original Pure Forskolin and Original White Kidney Bean.

How to Spot a Fake Friend Weight Loss Scam

• Be wary of an e-mail message from a friend that begins with lines like:
 “Hi! CNN says this is one of the best [link]”
 “Hi! Have you already seen it? [link]”

• Look for clues such as:

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 --The site displays the logo of a legitimate major television network, newspaper, or magazine, followed by a "reporter's" 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.

 --Throughout the site, you see links to other websites where you can buy the "weight loss" products or sign up for a "free" trial.

 --You see testimonials or comments from supposedly satisfied customers on the site.

What to do When You Spot a Fake Friend Weight Loss Scam

• Don’t click-on any emailed links or open attachments, even if you think you know the sender. In all likelihood it’s really not from your friend.

• Use your spam button on your e-mail provider to alert them to a potentially fraudulent use of your contact list names.

• File a complaint with the FTC if you ever spot an e-mail scam, or get sold on phony product promises.

For more about how to avoid weight loss product scams, here is a humorous and short video from the FDA about weight loss fraud.

Reference: FTC Consumer Information “Fake friends, fake news, phony weight-loss promises

Image courtesy of Pixabay