Beware of 'miracle' treatment fraudstersAround £20 million spent each year on bogus cures

28 February 2007

 

Pills in a cup

Consumers have been warned not to be hoodwinked into wasting money on 'miracle' health and slimming products which don't do what they claim.

Householders are being increasingly bombarded with mailings and emails from unscrupulous sellers of products promising miracle cures for all manner of problems.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) estimates that around 200,000 UK consumers lose about £20m a year to miracle health and slimming cures.

Treatments come in all forms including pills, lotions and creams offering cures for everything from baldness and obesity to impotence.

Potentially dangerous

The ‘cures’ – which are medically ineffective and, in some cases, potentially dangerous - are peddled by professional scammers.

They make false claims that their product is a 'scientific breakthrough' following years of research and has been clinically proven. Typically claims are supported by fake testimonials from 'satisfied customers' and worthless 'money back guarantees'.

The OFT advises consumers:

  • not to believe claims that a product available only by mail order or over the web from an exclusive supplier contains a 'special', 'secret', 'foreign' or 'ancient' formula that will provide instant cures to a wide variety of ailments
  • not to  believe claims that the medical establishment has overlooked, or has hidden, a 'scientific breakthrough'
  • not to  accept testimonials or case histories from so-called 'satisfied customers' as the only evidence that the product actually works.

Desperate hopes

Mike Haley, Head of the OFT’s Scambusters Team said: 'Scammers exploit people's desperate hopes for a miracle cure to their health problem. Not only are the products a waste of money but they can be dangerous, containing untested ingredients.

‘We urge everyone who sees a miracle health advert to stop, think and think again. Take medical advice from your doctor or pharmacist before you buy any medicinal product by mail order or over the web.'