Nutritional/Dietary Supplement Scams
A quick guide to buying nutritional supplements online, and why users should always be wary when purchasing self improvement supplements onlineThe age of medicine is always quickly changing, and one of the main talking points regarding health and fitness over the past years is the use of nutritional supplements. With the peoples dream of living for as long as possible, nurturing a healthy diet and otherwise natural healthy lifestyle is no longer considered sufficient with the introduction and increasing popularity of additional supplements one may not otherwise take.
The subject of nutritional supplements is one that still draws considerable controversy, both from the medical and retail communities, yet it seems that dietary enhancements are becoming more popular and increasingly accepted in today's world.
However, like anything that draws controversy and increases in popularity, there are people out there who take advantage of the situation.
Beware of the Acai Berries!
One such popular supplement is commonly known as the Acai Berry which is notoriously sold online as a dietary enhancement that purports to improve health, sexual virility and help with weight loss. However there is no credible evidence to back up these claims and many websites and multi level marketing plans selling Acai Berry based products have been shown to be both misleading and fraudulent. There are a significant number of complaints regarding these Acai schemes that vary from over charging credit cards, consumers getting unwittingly involved with Ponzi schemes and poor products or placebos being sent to customers. These attributes have in many cases become synonymous in the online self-improvement scam industry, with a surge of thousands of sites purporting to sell "miracle dietary cures", only for the victim to find out that the claims made by the websites were simply false or misleading, both grossly exaggerating the benefits of using the product and the downfalls of not using it.
Such sites selling supplements like these would be known to use many other misleading tactics, such as using trademarked logos of legitimate news outlets and magazines in an attempt to feign endorsement. Additionally scam sites would hide expensive monthly charges under the facade of a "free trial" and automatically sign up victims to multiple subscriptions making it harder for victims to cancel and avoid further charges.
This has led to many supplement based websites also being attacked and shut down for breach of many non-supplement FTC guidelines, including updated FTC guidelines regarding the use of both customer testimonials and celebrity endorsements. Such sites would use faked unverifiable customer testimonials that purported atypical and uncharacteristic results, and also employed fake celebrity endorsements. Celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and her resident medical expert Dr. Oz were notoriously unwittingly linked to these scams, which led to them filing suit against a number of these sites. Such sites claimed the celebrity duo endorsed their products, which was untrue.
You can read more about Acai Berry Scams on our site here.
MLMs and Pyramid Schemes
Additionally websites or multi level marketing plans that sell a wider range of supplements have also attracted noteworthy criticism, on many fronts, which has led to specific FTC guidelines outlining the retail and advertisements of such supplements sold by sites and MLMs in the USA.
One such controversy that has drawn fierce criticism is often poor advice given by sites and affiliates regarding the sales of such items in order to sell supplements, which is often prioritised over giving sound advice to potential customers. One drawback, especially concerning MLMs that sell supplements, is the innate nature of an MLM structure that pressures its affiliates into selling as many of these supplements as possible with little regard to whether the end user really requires such a product.
Such affiliate based selling techniques are also often criticised for not checking their affiliates knowledge or experience of nutritional supplements when providing advice and selling such commodities. There is little legal ground or legislation concerning this area since these supplements are not considered [prescription] drugs, even though poor advice regarding supplements can still be considered potentially dangerous.
Even larger MLMs like USANA and Vitamark that focus on the sales of nutritional supplements have drawn their share of criticism and disapproval. USANA had found themselves in court for misleading their affiliates regarding potential earnings, a popular trademark of shady MLM schemes. The legal MLM Pre Paid Legal found themselves in trouble with the SEC for similar reasons.
Nutritional advice, like medical advice, is always best coming from someone who is qualified in the field. Whilst in many cases websites or affiliates of MLMs that sell supplements might be knowledgeable in the area, there is no guarantee, and any advice is likely to be biased to selling their products.
Our recommendation is always to get advice from either your doctor or a qualified nutritionist, and if you do purchase such products online, proceed with caution and remember that the person selling you the item is just that – a salesman, not a qualified nutritionist and any advice offered should not necessarily be taken as correct.
FTC Guidelines: Dietary Supplements: An Advertising Guide for the Industry
MLMWatchdog.com: Vitamark Big Al Tom Schreiter
Online Nutrionist: Acai: Oprah and Dr. Oz File Suit
Casewatch.org: USANA sued for Fraud and Deceit
Scam.com: Many disapprove of Vitamark MLM
Razak Bahmann says:
I do online purchase of food supplements from a Company that offers "Buy 1 and get 2 Free" promotion. As example buy CQ10 for $9.45 for 30 caps. and get 2 bot. free. Is this not a likely imitation product. I van give the name of the Company if need be. Please advise.
|posted on 05/16/11|
4life is a nutritional supplement company that sells its products through MLM.
What is your opinion about this company?
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