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The Freebie Fraud
If it’s free, you’ll pay too much.

Published Feb 2, 2009

One service we perform for our readers is to check out product promotions that our readers bring to our attention.

A few readers asked us about CURR, the “new” diet aid from (gees, I don’t remember where; Iceland? Netherlands? ); well, it was advertised thusly: The first time sold in America!

The good news? You get a whole bottle for free by just paying the shipping.

Number one rule: Nothing is Free.

Again: NOTHING IS FREE.

The moment you sign up for the freebie, the moment you push “BUY” and pay for the shipping charge, you are signed up to receive the product monthly at prices that will boggle your mind.

CURR might be new to the US, but only under the name CURR. CURR is green tea. CURR is the most expensive green tea you’ll ever buy. You can get green tea extract for $10.00, but this one will cost you $40.00 and don’t forget the shipping costs.

When I purchased the “free” sample, I examined the web site very thoroughly and finally found the statement that I would be mailed another bottle for $40.00 monthly. The only way out was to call their phone number and cancel. I called, cancelled, and that was it.

However, many of our readers wanted to know about the new Acai Berry Diet offers, so I really had to check them out. There are possibly 50 different web sites selling this stuff. They are making MILLIONS of dollars off unsuspecting users. This is one really hefty scam.

For example, if you search for a diet supplement (and there are valid, useful, and effective diet supplements on the market; just don’t rely heavily on them because you have to do a lot of work no matter what you’re taking) the most deceptive ads, sadly, will show up in your browser. They purport to tell you that they are protecting you from diet scams. For example, here is one link that landed at the top of the search engine:

1.                         Weight Loss Scam Exposed?

www.TheWeightLossReview.org      • Top Weight Loss Products Exposed. • Purchase Only Reviewed Products..

If you click on the link, you’ll see this:

The Weight Loss Review

We are an organization that consits of 13 licensed doctors and 25 nutricionists. Lately, we've noticed how many companies out there are selling low-quality diet pills for exhorbitant prices. After trying almost all Weight Loss Products in the market and helping thousands of people to lose weight, we came to the conclusion that not all diet products are created equal.

Some barely had the desired effects on us (weight loss, increased energy, toxin cleanser) while others seemed to work wonders.

After months of testing and after trying all of the Weight Loss products on the market we have compiled a list of the best Weight Loss products currently on the market.

We proudly present you those 3 products that we think are really worth the money and will help you lose weight the natural, healthy and good way. All products that we reviewed offer a free trial, you can try them for free before buying.

All of that is one bold faced lie. You'd think with all these professionals in their organization they could find one proofreader. These people are simply profiteers who make a killing from the same, fraudulent practices that they are supposedly protecting you from.

Many of the paid advertising links you find online that purport to bust scams or show you the “dangers of” or list the top ten “whatevers” are linked to the biggest scams on the web. These people make millions and have hefty advertising budgets.

THIS APPLIES EVEN TO THE ADS AT OUR SITE. WE DO NOT CHOOSE WHICH ADS APPEAR AT THIS SITE, GOOGLE DOES. PLEASE FORGIVE US FOR THIS BUT THEY PAY THE BILLS.

A few years ago we told our readers about the Acai berry. Some of you went out and bought some Acai berry products and enjoyed them. Then Oprah mentioned the Acai berry, and suddenly hundreds of companies sprouted selling Acai products. Some were good companies, but too many sold crap.

The products listed on The Weight Loss Review pages (above) are examples of crap.

We contacted a couple supplement makers and gave them the ingredient list to the product I'd gotten "free." The product, they informed me, should cost (including a good profit margin) around $14.00 for a month supply. If marketed heavily, it could cost around $20.00.

The sites you are sent to will tell you, if you look hard enough, that the product costs over $80.00 and you are getting it at a discount (approximately $65.00). They also tell you, if you look closely, that you’ve just joined their auto-ship program and that you will be shipped this stuff in just a few days unless you call and cancel.

All of these sites are violating FCC rules and regulations. Enjoy your Freebee, because when they start billing you, you will be paying about $6,000 per pound for your acai berries.

Many sites do exactly this; sites with free offers, dating sites are famous for this; the reunion sites (where you find your classmates); and others.

The Federal Trade Commission sent us their white sheet on laws regarding internet practices and advertising and all of these sites are “skirting” the laws.

In other words, they are not being fraudulent, they are being deceitful.

The law states that if the user is signing up for more charges on their credit cards, that information must be clearly visible to the user. What these sites do is post a link (in plain site) to their “terms” and expect you to click on it. You are told to click on it. Your pressing “BUY” at the bottom also states that you’ve read and agreed to the terms.

In the Terms page, the organization is supposed to be up front with all this information. What happens is this: the user sees pages of text, scans for a second, and then closes the window. This is what all of these sites want to happen. This is the psychology behind the “terms” scam. They know that most users will not even open the terms link, and that those who do won’t read them thoroughly, and that of those left over, many will read a few words and ignore the rest. What it comes down to is a handful of people will actually read the terms (your truly being one, but I must admit, only because I’m a journalist).

Now for the clincher. The Acai Berry Diet plans (like I said, there must be 50 sites on the web selling it) has very little actual Acai in it. There is less than a berry in each capsule. Just 100 mgs in the sample we got.

However, instead of calling and canceling, I read the agreement and noted that all sales are final. If the customer refuses the package, the customer will still be charged. As a journalist, I had to find out exactly what it took to get my money back ($65.00).

It took over 45 minutes on the phone, talking to this person, then that person, and finally another person. The only reason, I am convinced, that I got my money back was that I told them I was a journalist and that I was writing an article about their site; that I’d already contacted the FTC about fraudulent business practices, etc., etc., etc.

So, buyer beware. If you buy something online for less than the retail price, or join a dating service, or reunion service, read the terms carefully. Know that you will be charged again and again till your credit runs out. A good credit card company will protect you, but do not count on that.

And if you want to know what diet supplements work, read this site. We will always publish the good ones (just look at the products in the column to the left), the ones that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, just a few rolls of fat (and you won’t be re-billed without your knowledge).

UPDATE 18/17/2009

These people are getting really good at scamming. They advertize with provocative tags such as: Dangers of Acai; Side Effects of Acai, Acai Scam?

No matter what the headline, these all lead to scamming web sites. Here is a link (that will probably be dead soon [these people move fast to keep ahead of the FTC]): http://acai-berry-alert-2009.com/news/?t202id=4574&t202kw=adsonar

If the link is dead, here is a link to a photo of the page (it's a big screen shot, nearly 1MB): Click to view the page.

You just have to love this page. There is no such thing as WSTV News 11 in New York. As seen on.... There is no Kelly@news11.com, in fact, there is no news11.com. The page is a lot of bull with one purpose: to get you to buy their acai product for around $6,000.00 per pound.

Even on this page....are advertisements (I'm so sorry, they pay the bills and we're still thousands in debt, and we do NOT choose the advertisements) by these people.

  

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