Resolution to get fit this year? How to Spot a Weight-Loss Scam

Cristina POPOV

January 12, 2024

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Resolution to get fit this year? How to Spot a Weight-Loss Scam

Starting a new year comes for many of us with a resolution to get healthier and shed some pounds. Yet, with the rise in fitness enthusiasm, it's essential to stay cautious about scams that promise quick and miraculous changes in weight loss and overall well-being. While these pitches persist throughout the year, January sees a surge in weight loss product promotions.

Scammers advertise dubious weight loss pills, patches, or creams through telemarketing calls, text messages, social media, blogs, fake news sites, and banner ads, all promising incredible results.

Some ads may cleverly mimic news reports, revealing a "miraculous" weight loss without diet or exercise. It won't work. What works is knowing some safety tips for spotting and reporting them.

How scammers launch fake products to get your money

By understanding how scammers sell promises, you can better protect yourself from falling victim.

Here's a breakdown of their tactics:

1.   Create a false story about a product or ingredient: Scammers come up with untrue or unproved narratives to sell their weight loss products. For instance, they create misleading "news" reports claiming that an ingredient from their product is a magical solution for weight loss. But, in reality, no clinical study supports that – it's all made up. And although that ingredient may be a healthy thing to eat (in general), it won't slim you down overnight. To add a touch of authenticity, they often steal logos from legitimate news organizations, use names and web addresses resembling well-known news websites, and even include public photos of reporters in their fake reports.

2.   Fabricate a strong online presence for their product. They go the extra mile by establishing phony news websites, blogs, banner ads, and social media profiles to propagate their fabricated stories and promote their products on multiple channels.

3.   Send you phishing emails: They send you emails promising life-changing results and try to deceive you into ordering/ filling in forms for more information or starting a free trial.

4.   Use fake before-and-after photos. The photos showcasing significant weight loss are either AI-generated or digitally altered stock photos to offer a misleading portrayal of the product's effectiveness.

5.   Fake positive reviews and testimonials: To build a false sense of trust, scammers write positive online reviews themselves, pay others to do it, or copy and paste favorable comments from other fraudulent sites.

Warning signs of diet and fitness Scams

Spoiler alert: You cannot have a gym-like body without going to the gym or a flat belly in 10 days without changing your diet. Scammers try to convince you that you can achieve these.

1. Weight loss with no effort promises. Remember the golden rule: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. In this case, promises revolve around weight loss without a diet or sport. But there is no shortcut. Effective habit changes demand effort, awareness, and a willingness to explore new habits.

2. Very Specific outcomes and time frames. Beware of claims guaranteeing specific results within a set time frame, such as "30 pounds in 30 days" messages. They are dishonest, to say the least, as various factors influence body weight, and everyone responds differently to diets, exercise, and supplements.

3. Huge Discounts, Free Trials, and Money Back Guarantees. Be cautious of steep discounts, free trials, and money-back guarantees. In diet and fitness, these tactics often hide important conditions in the fine print. Some people end up paying unexpectedly for recurring shipments after falling for free trials.

4."Hurry before we sell out" pressure. Scammers rush victims into purchases without proper research. Take your time, think twice, and be wary of pressure tactics that push you into hasty decisions.

Risks of falling victim to scams: lightning-fast money and data loss.

Getting tricked by scammers selling misleading diet and fitness products poses serious risks.

Firstly, there's a health concern – these products are not always verified and can contain harmful substances that can cause potential health issues.

Financially, there's a risk, too, as scammers may tempt you with discounts or free trials but end up charging you unexpectedly for ongoing shipments.

Last but not least, there's a threat to your data. When you place an order on a dodgy website, answer a questionnaire, activate a free trial, or reply to a phishing email, you are asked for numerous personal details.

This is how scammers steal your information, target you, or use it at a later date. If you've provided any information, such as your home address, phone number, or email, be vigilant. Verify any unexpected emails, calls, and texts from companies using the official contact details on their websites.

How you can protect yourself against online scams

Always put your health first. In the quest for a healthier you, prioritize your well-being. When considering a weight loss plan, consult with professionals like your physician, registered dietitian, or nutritionist to identify the most suitable program for you.

Keep an eye out for the red flags listed above. Do your research on products claiming to do the heavy lifting for you, be cautious, and gather more information before diving in. Contacting the seller, request scientific publications and real-life results, and ask specific, objective questions to make informed decisions.

Check out texts, messages, emails, links, and photos with Bitdefender Scamio. Bitdefender Scamio is a scam detector chatbot designed to help you spot and prevent online scams before they can do any harm to you, your family, or your money. Scamio is free and doesn't require downloading any app or having previous access to a Bitdefender product.

You can access it on any device or operating system via your web browser or Facebook Messenger. All you have to do is describe the scam, upload an image, and send a link or a text. Scamio will reply to you back if that is spam or not.

Report spam and false advertising to help others, too. If you come across fraudulent weight loss product claims, promptly report them to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at or your state attorney general.

Protect yourself and contribute to a safer online environment for everyone.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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