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Weight loss scams

What are weight loss scams?

These scams promise weight loss for little or no effort. The scam may involve an unusual or restrictive diet, ‘revolutionary’ exercise or fat-busting devices, or products such as pills, patches, or creams.

Scammers exploit the fact that people can often be attracted by promises of success with little effort. Many weight loss scams suggest that you can achieve great results without having to do any extra exercise or even modify your diet.

Often, attractive people or celebrities are used to sell the products. These may be people with a different body shape and metabolism to you and who use the product in conjunction with an exercise regime and strict diet.

At best fad diets and products might result in a temporary weight loss in the short term and can be dangerous if followed over a longer period. Unless a person develops and maintains a better diet and physical activity habit, any weight lost (often water or muscle rather than fat) will soon return.

Warning signs

The weight loss scheme or product:

  • lacks scientific evidence or demonstrated links between the result and the effects of the program, food, supplement, gadget or process being promoted
  • is sold outside normal commercial distribution channels. For example, through the internet, by unqualified individuals or mail order advertisements
  • claims effortless, large or fast weight loss such as 'lose 30 kilos in 30 days' or 'lose weight while you sleep'
  • claims that you can achieve weight loss without exercise, or without managing food or energy intake
  • fails to recommend medical supervision, particularly for low-calorie diets
  • claims to reduce fat or cellulite in specific areas of the body
  • uses terms such as 'miraculous breakthrough'
  • recommends the exclusive use of any type of gadget
  • claims it is a treatment for a wide range of ailments and nutritional deficiencies
  • promotes a particular ingredient, compound or food as the key factor of success
  • demands large advance payments or requires you to enter into long-term contracts.

Protect yourself from weight loss scams

  • If it looks too good to be true—it probably is.
  • Remember there are no magic pills or safe options for rapid weight loss.
  • Be very careful about offers for medicines, supplements or other treatments: always seek the advice of your health care professional.
  • ALWAYS get independent advice if an offer involves significant money, time or commitment.
  • Read all the terms and conditions of any offer very carefully: claims of free or very cheap offers often have hidden costs.

As well as following these specific tips, find out how to protect yourself from all sorts of other scams.

Do your homework

Find out what evidence is used to support the weight loss claims made for the product. Do not rely only on testimonials from people who have used the product. These people may profit from selling you the product and may mislead you to do so.

If you think you need, or want, to lose weight you should discuss the options with a health care professional such as a dietician or your local GP. Some of the weight loss products or schemes offered by scammers can have very serious consequences for your health if you take them up.

If the offer involves an expensive or ongoing plan, you should look at the terms and conditions before signing or agreeing to it. Make sure you find out how much the plan will cost in total and what exactly you will receive for your money. Also check to see if there is a ‘cooling off’ period where you can change your mind, and what you have to do to end the contract if you are not satisfied.

Decide

If you think a weight loss offer is a scam, just ignore it.

If you think the weight loss product or scheme may be worth considering, you should seek the advice of a qualified health care professional before you start.
Make sure you know the terms and conditions of any product or service that you plan to sign up for. Pay very close attention to any conditions attached to a ‘money back guarantee’ offer.

Report them

If you think you have seen a weight loss scam, you can let the authorities know through the report a scam section of SCAMwatch. You should also warn your family and friends about the scheme or product.

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What to do if you've been scammed; Scams & the law; Report a scam.

Similar scams:


Miracle cure scams prey on the sick or desperate by selling drugs or treatments that don’t work or are even dangerous.

Fake online pharmacies offer drugs and medicines at very cheap prices or without a prescription. They can cause you major health and money problems.

Spam emails, SMS or MMS usually offer free goods or ‘prizes’, very cheap products or promises of wealth. Responding to spam messages can result problems for you computer and your bank account.

Dating and romance scams try to lower your defences by appealing to your romantic or compassionate side. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details.

If you are contacted by a psychic or clairvoyant offering you mystical secrets to wealth, health and luck, be very wary. Do not be fooled by fantastic claims and promises, they may be scams.

There are many types of scams that aim to steal your credit card details, either by taking the card itself or by tricking you into giving them the card’s details.

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