Con artists have been selling snake oil through association with reputable science for as long as there have been consumers looking for health cures. While fraudsters of yore had to depend on fancy printed labels and persuasive pitches, today’s conman can use fake news video and web pages to confuse and mislead consumers into believing they are reading a legitimate and independently researched article rather than deceptive copy written by underhanded marketers touting products with unsubstantiated health claims.
This is precisely the technique that marketers are using with the banner ad touting “1 trick of a Tiny Belly.” These banner and pop-up ads have been infesting the Internet, appearing on numerous websites, including such mainstream sites as msnbc.com. When curious consumers click on the ad, they are transferred to what appears to be a legitimate news website with a story about a miracle weight loss product, such as acai berries, African mangos, and other exotic potions. Intrigued consumers are then offered a “free” trial of the miracle weight loss product, so long as they provide a credit card for a “processing fee” or for shipping. Not surprisingly, these weight loss products rarely live up to their deceptive claims, and many consumers complain that they are unable to cancel before the end of the free trial period.
Indeed, the marketers behind “1 trick of a Tiny Belly” appear to be using every trick in the conman’s book. First, the banner ads use sex to draw consumers’ attention, depicting a cartoon woman transforming from overweight to a slim and toned bikini clad figure. Second, the page to which the consumers are transferred appears to be a legitimate news website, when in fact it is pure fiction, completely unaffiliated with any real journalist or independent research organization. Third, the health claims are apparently unsubstantiated, as there seems to be little or no scientific support for the claims that consumers will enjoy rapid and easy weight loss. Fourth, the offer of a “free” trial puts the onus on consumers to remember to cancel the expensive subscriptions. Indeed, many consumers report that it is impossible to cancel the subscriptions, and that their credit cards are charged for products and services they did not authorize.
The Washington Post reports that consumers have spent $1 billion on the apparently bogus weight loss products being sold using the “1 trick of a Tiny Belly” advertisement.
If you or someone you know has purchased a weight loss product connected with a “1 trick of a Tiny Belly” advertisement, or any other similar advertisement, please contact us to discuss your legal options.