10 tips to beat keto pill scammers: Internet Scambusters #963
The keto diet claims it can help you lose weight. Perhaps. But some of the claims surrounding it are certainly fake, as we report in this week's issue.
We'll highlight the most common types of keto scams and give you 10 sound tips on how to avoid getting snared by the crooks.
We also have a warning about the rise in fake travel websites, as airline services resume some of their services.
Let's get started…
Crazy Claims and Con Tricks Chase Keto Diet
Diets come and go, but maybe none has attracted more scams and con merchants than the so-called keto diet.
Keto is based on the principle of ketosis -- in very simple terms, a process that sends your body into burning fat for energy instead of glucose from carbohydrates, leading to dramatic weight loss. In other words, it's a low-carb diet.
It's already controversial because, although it usually does achieve a weight-loss result, some nutrition experts claim it's not healthy.
We're not about to enter into that debate, but we do want to warn about some of the outrageous claims and con tricks that follow in its wake.
Mostly, these center on pills, rather than foods, that claim to be able to send a body into ketosis.
That's not to say that all keto supplements are a fake but there's limited evidence that they work unless the person taking them has also cut their carb intake. And there are certainly instances of phony claims that keto pills and diets are endorsed by celebrities.
Many well-known names have been used, including actress and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen and TV entrepreneur and host Oprah Winfrey.
A good example is a suggestion that a keto "miracle" pill was taken up by the popular TV ideas-backing show Shark Tank and backed by one or more of the panel of investors.
The pills were claimed to melt away fat in a matter of days or weeks.
According to one of the leading keto sites (ketoreport.org), based on a number of investigations, including by the Better Business Bureau, there was never a Shark Tank episode featuring a keto pill.
"Many of these stories are riddled with keto buzzwords and optimistic claims," explains public health specialist Heather Acott.
"Some even have 'before' and 'after' pictures of celebrities who supposedly lost a drastic amount of weight by using these products. It's easy to see why many were digging out their credit cards ready to get their hands on the wonder pill."
Furthermore, while supplements containing certain chemicals are said to aid followers of the diet program, the supposed Shark Tank product packaging didn't list its ingredients.
"Putting unknown ingredients into your body can have a negative effect on your health and cause some serious damage to your body," Acott warns.
And this isn't the only keto scam. AARP, the organization representing older folk, reported recently that in a matter of just a few months it received 25 reports of keto pill scams.
A common trick was to offer a supply of pills free of charge. Consumers just had to pay a shipping and handling charge of a few dollars. What they didn't realize was that they were signing up for a recurring monthly shipment costing a couple hundred dollars. Instead of losing weight, they lost their money.
In some cases, victims found they had also "enrolled" in other offers, with charges regularly deducted from their payment cards.
As in other con tricks, attempts at activating a "money back guarantee" usually fail. In one case, a victim was told they could only have their money back if they returned pill bottles unopened!
One of the challenges is that so-called dietary supplements are unregulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although it and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are able to prosecute alleged scammers.
If you're considering trying a keto diet, it's important to investigate the claimed pros and cons of any health and effectiveness claims, as well as understanding that any pills, if they work at all, still need you to limit your carb intake.
Here are 10 more keto scam and advice pointers from both Acott and the FDA:
- Beware of outrageous claims of huge weight loss in a short amount of time -- like losing 10 pounds in a week.
- Avoid products that "guarantee" weight loss or make claims of a "scientific breakthrough" or that taking the pills is "risk free."
- Be skeptical of spammed marketing emails. You should never even click on links in spam messages. Poor English or even use of foreign language are also red flags.
- Avoid products that don't list ingredients in the packaging. Most likely, a pill that may support keto weight loss will contain beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB).
- If you plan to go on any kind of diet, talk to your doctor or other appropriate nutrition or health professional first.
- Be skeptical of claims of celebrity endorsements.
- Look for and check out companies that are registered with the FDA and certified to follow the agency's Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP). Remember, anyone can make these claims -- so check them out with the FDA.
- Favor products that offer at least a 60-day, no-strings, money-back guarantee. And pay with a credit card, which offers a degree of fraud protection.
- Read the small print in any mail order service that you sign up for, checking if there's a recurring charge. Beware of "free trial" offers that involve automatic billing.
- Research the name of any keto pill adding the word "scam" into the search box.
In these days of movement restrictions and work-from-home practices, anecdotal reports suggest that many people have gained unwanted weight. Some of these will clutch at straws and are ready to try anything. Keto pill scammers know that.
Alert of the Week
The gradual easing of travel restrictions after recent limitations has sparked a wave of airfare scams.
Fraudsters are known to have created fake airline and travel websites, offering cut-price tickets that actually don't exist.
Make sure you know for sure who you're dealing with and only provide credit card and other financial information to organizations you've thoroughly checked out.
That's it for today -- we hope you enjoy your week!