ST. LOUIS, MO. - Francine Buerke says a product pitched by Dr. Oz made a believer out of her. After all, it was just a free trial.
“It said I would lose like 10 pounds in one week.” Said Buerke
But the only thing Buerke lost was her money.
“Within the 30 days I tried to get a hold of the company to cancel it but that didn’t happen. They sent me another bottle for $99 which I returned but never received the refund,” said Buerke.
Those kind of deceptive free trials, misleading ads, and fake celebrity endorsements are the focus of a new Better Business Bureau report.
“Average losses for these sorts of scams are $186.72 percent of victims we found were female. The scam hits victims of all ages. The most common age is 30-39. Legitimate companies selling dietary supplements don’t engage in this sort of conduct,” said Steve Baker, International BBB Investigator.
The Federal Trade Commission says deceptive online free trial offer complaints doubled between over the last two years and are only expected to rise. In June, the FTC filed suit against a company and its subsidiaries for deceptively enrolling customers into a monthly subscription service. FTC attorney Samantha Gordon says the outfit used hundreds of different LLCs to hide from investigators.
“One base of operations is in California. The other base of operations is in the British Virgin Islands with the owner of that company operating out of Thailand.” Said Gordon.
Then there’s the case of Central Coast Nutraceuticals (CCN) and its weight loss pill called AcaiPure.
CCN hired “affiliates” that placed ads on popular websites. People who clicked on these links were taken to pages that looked like independent news articles written by supposed reporters who claimed to investigate CCN’s diet products and found amazing results. Readers were then provided with a link to CCN’s website. The affiliates were paid a commission from CCN when they got people to go to the website, or when they signed up for a free trial.
“I want to save anyone else from the frustrating experience I went through,” said Buerke.
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