For those you who have a Facebook account, you may have noticed the advertisements that regularly pop up on the right side of the screen. Now I understand that Facebook is a business and that an important way of making money for the company is through advertising. However some of the ads that regularly feature are not just lame, but have the elements of a scam.
Specifically there are those ads that entice you in with the prospect of turning that keg into a six pack with minimal effort and a short timeframe. Such ads I have encountered have included are Dave’s Personal Blog and Getting Your Six Pack. While at a glance they appear to be different from each other, there are a large number of similarities between the two sites including in the layout and language used. In particular the endorsements received from members of the public are identical – right down the usernames and dates that the comments were posted. On the face of it looks like these guys who run these sites have been sucked into a multi-level marketing scam, until you click any one of the links and they lead to one website – acaiforcemax.com. I suspect that these websites are actually sockpuppets for acaiforcemax.com.
The websites provide the typical anecdote of the Joe Bloggs who obtains an incredible physique through the consumption of Acai berry fruit juice – the most recent fad in pseudo-nutritional supplements. There is no evidence for its efficacy as assisting with weight loss – nor for the range of other claims made for it such as cleansing colons (which is a scam in itself) and enhancing ones sexual prowess. Check out the Skeptic Doc’s blog entry on acai berries and what is interesting is that there is a range of other exotic items such as blueberry juice, grape juice, and red wine that have more anti-oxidants than acai juice.
However, if a person wants to part with their hard earned money for another useless supplement then go ahead – knock yourself out. What is more concerning is the deceptive techniques that many of these online companies use to trick people into subscribing for expensive products – and what you will find is that by signing up to one of the free trials of acai berries will mean that you will lose a lot more than a few kilos.
Lets take acaiforcemax.com, a website where whoever has registered the domain has gone to some lengths to protect themselves from identification. The free trial is aggressively pushed in the website and hey – if they are giving it away is there any harm in trying? As they make it clear that there are only limited supplies one better quickly work their way through the process to get their free trial. The first step is to take their test to see if you qualify. I decided to misrepresent myself as a 137cm tall, 72 year old Munchkin whose goal was to move from being 115kg to 160kg and strangely enough I qualified for a free trial!
You then need to provide them with a range of personal information including an e-mail address (bring on the acai berry spam) and the only cost involved is a US$4.95 postage fee for the free acai berries and guess what? You also are entitled to become a member of their Elite Customer Club.
The membership of this club means that you are also billed US$79.95 for the acai berry supply (that you have not asked for) and you also obtain access to their World Club Fitness and Weight Loss Resources for a meagre US$6.95 and US$8.95 per month. So in total this “free trial” will set you back US$100.80 (NZ$148) per month. You only need to Google the terms ‘acai berry scam’ to see the number of people who have fallen for this scam and find themselves jumping through numerous hoops to get the payments stopped.
My advice is that if something is marketed as free on the Internet it will be too good to be true.