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Health Fraud Scams

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), health fraud scams refer to products that claim to prevent, treat or cure diseases or other health conditions, but they have not been proven safe and effective for those uses. The FDA defines a health product as being fraudulent if it is deceptively promoted as being effective against a condition, but it has never been proven effective or safe for that condition.

English: Source: FDA-OCI

Health fraud scams are not something new. They have been around for a long, long time. In fact, health fraud scams have existed for hundreds of years. The troubling thing is that companies are getting more and more skillful at drawing customers in and stealing their hard earned money.

When some company announces some type of “revolutionary scientific breakthrough” or a “miracle cure,” you probably think that sounds too good to be true. Most of the time, you are absolutely right. It is too good to be true.

Built on people's desires

Health fraud scams are built on the desires of most people to look and feel younger or lose a lot of weight by just taking some revolutionary, magic pill. What is far worse is when health fraud scams take advantage of people’s desires to cure diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s or cancer.

It is bad enough to spend large amounts of money on health fraud scams, but, to make matters far worse, some fraudulent products can actually hurt you. For instance, the FDA says that over 100 weight loss products were illegally marketed in the United States as dietary supplements that contained sibutramine. Sibutramine is the active ingredient in the prescription medication Meridia.

Meridia is a drug that was removed from the United States market in 2010. The reason being that the drug was connected to an increased risk for strokes and heart attacks.

Medical devices

Another example is medical devices that are being offered to consumers. Claims are that these devices can treat disorders, such as Alzheimer’s, concussions and cancer. However, these medical devices have never been scientifically tested or approved for use.

There are several ways that health fraud scams are promoted and carried out. Some of these are through:

Infomercials on television
Retail stores
Social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook
The internet on many different websites
In popup ads and spam.

The FDA offers some things to watch for that are indications of health fraud scams. These include:

Quick fixes that claim a condition or disease can be treated quickly
When a product is advertised as a “miracle cure”
Conspiracy theories that make claims, such as the government and the pharmaceutical industry are working together to hide information about a cure
A product advertised as being all natural may contain prescription drug ingredients or untested active artificial ingredients
One product being advertised to do it all or to cure a wide range of diseases
Personal testimonials that can easily be made up.

The bottom line is that health fraud scams cost consumers billions of dollars. They not only waste money, but they can result in delays in receiving both proper diagnosis and treatment. In some instances, they can even bring about serious or fatal injuries.

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