BBB warns against diet pill scams

  
     
June 21, 2011

The Better Business Bureau of Acadiana is warning consumers to be wary of false “news” announcements of free trial offers for online diet pills. The warning comes in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently filing lawsuits against acai berry weight loss products.

          According to the FTC, millions of consumers are being lured to deceptive websites that imitate those of reputable news organizations. The “reporters” on these sites have supposedly done independent evaluations of acai berry supplements and claim their products cause major weight loss in a short period of time with no diet or exercise.    

         In reality, the websites are deceptive advertisements placed by third-party or “affiliate” marketers and are aimed at enticing consumers to buy the featured acai berry weight-loss products. These fake news operations are the subject of a nationwide law enforcement initiative.

Deceptive online ads for the acai berry weight loss products can be found posing to be from popular news outlets such as ABC, Fox News, CBS, CNN, USA Today and Consumer Reports. According to the FTC, the defendants have collectively paid more than $10 million to advertise their fake news sites and have likely received well in excess of that amount in ill-gotten commissions.

In 2010, the FTC filed an action against acai berry marketer Central Coast Nutraceuticals, which has an F rating with BBB. According to the more than 2,800 complaints to the Central, Northern and Western Arizona BBBs, the company deceptively marketed acai berry supplements as weight-loss products and “colon cleansers.” There were also numerous complaints concerning a variety of refund and exchange issues.

Fighting deceptive free trial offers online continues to be a difficult game to win. Just as one company is put out of business, it is replaced by another with the same business model of ripping consumers off under the guise of a no-risk free trial offer.

Before signing up for any free trial offer, read the fine print carefully and always check the company out with the BBB. You will save time and money by avoiding the hassle and recurring charges of unscrupulous offers.

Please remeber, “if it sounds too good to be true; it probably is!” Additional advice on signing up for free trial offers is available at www.bbb.org/us/article/free-trial-offers--are-they-good-deals-425. Consumers who believe they have been misled by a free trial offer can file a complaint online with the BBB at www.bbb.org.